Feel your best starting with your stomach

Did you know that they key to personal health may begin in the core of the body? Doctors and researchers are learning more and more about how the immune system and other functions of the body are tied to microscopic players housed in the stomach and intestines. Improving this digestive environment can benefit the body in various ways.

Understanding probiotics

Bodily bacteria outnumber body cells by 10 to one, offers the health and wellness resource Healthline. Most of the bacteria in the body are harmless, and many of them in the gut actually are linked to numerous health benefits, such as weight loss, enhanced immune function, reduced risk of disease, and improved digestion. Unfortunately, bad bacteria also vie for space in the gut. If the good bacteria and yeasts, or probiotics, are not in abundance to push out the bad bacteria, like salmonella and E. coli, those bad bugs can proliferate, causing problems. It is essential to keep an abundance of probiotics available to stay healthy and maintain the “good vs. bad” balance in the gut.

Getting probiotics

While the body can be healthy without the addition of probiotics, having more can be beneficial. The Cleveland Clinic says that food and supplements containing probiotics assist the good bacteria already present in your gut. When a course of antibiotics wipes out both good and bad bacteria, for example, probiotic-rich foods and supplements can more readily replace what’s lost.

Dietary sources of probiotics include some yogurts, cheeses, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, pickles, and beverages like kombucha, a fermented tea. Getting probiotics from foods is the most natural way to supplement good gut bacteria, as the foods meld with the probiotics in ways that doctors may never understand to deliver the most benefits.

The downside is it’s impossible to measure just how many probiotics can be acquired from foods. That is what makes supplementation so handy. Capsules and tablets are loaded with a variety of different active bacteria and yeast cultures to aid the digestive system in measurable ratios. Some tout anywhere from one to 30 billion active colony-forming units (CFUs) per serving.

Side effects

Probiotics are generally healthy for people to consume in amounts found in foods, advises the Mayo Clinic. Most healthy adults can safely add foods or dietary supplements that contain probiotics to their diets. Introducing probiotics may cause temporary and mild flatulence, discomfort and bloating.

Probiotics can be yet another tool to improve overall health at any age, but especially for adults looking to minimize illness risk.


Those poised to begin a health regimen that includes probiotics would be wise to also educate themselves about the closely named, yet vastly different, “prebiotics” that are also beneficial to health. Prebiotics are to probiotics what fertilizer is to a vegetable garden. Prebiotics are essentially a special type of soluble fiber that is used by the beneficial bacteria as fuel, advises the prebiotic supplement company Prebiotin. Examples of good sources of prebiotics include bananas, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, apple skins, beans, and chicory root. The prebiotic fiber moves through the small intestine undigested and fermented until it reaches the large intestine. Once there, beneficial bacteria break it down and use it as food. Thusly, the prebiotics can then multiply readily and improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Eating prebiotic foods can fuel the process, but many probiotic supplements now have a combination formula that includes prebiotics in the recipe.


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