Gut health. You’ve read about it in the news. You’ve heard people talking about it. But are you doing anything about it? If not, you might want to reconsider.
Word is, gut health is a cornerstone of overall body health. The more we learn, the more we realize that the inner workings of our digestive system are very closely linked to how often we get sick and how we feel overall.
Benefits of probiotics
Probiotics (beneficial bacteria), are key players in creating a healthy balance of microorganisms in our intestines, which keeps our digestive system in balance and in turn, keeps our bodies feeling their best. Probiotics have been shown to be effective for:
- diarrhea and other digestive issues
- irritable bowl syndrome
- yeast infections
- strengthened immune system (especially after taking antibiotics)
- increased nutrient absorption
- reducing allergic response
Live cultured yogurt is probably the most popular food source for probiotics but there are plenty of others including fermented beverages like kefir and kombucha and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, sour pickles and even sourdough bread. If you eat these foods regularly, you may not have a need for a probiotic supplement.
What to look for in a probiotic supplement
It’s a wild world out there when it comes to probiotic supplements. Available in the form of pills, capsules or powders, all with differing claims on the labels, it can be tough to know which product to buy. As with any dietary supplement, it’s important to do your research before you buy. After doing a little digging, here are some factors I consider important in the purchase of a probiotic supplement:
- Bacteria cultures must be live and active (if they aren’t, they won’t do you any good)
- Multiple strains of bacteria should be included (the most common strains are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium but there are many varieties)
- Bacteria should be the result of a fermentation process from real food (veggies, fruits & grains) as opposed to commercially produced using fecal matter sources
- Product should be organic and GMO-free
- Formula should contain prebiotics as well as probiotics (prebiotics are what the bacteria need to feed upon in order to repopulate in the gut)
- A formula in a food state (i.e. a powder) is much preferred over a pill or capsule that contains fillers or other ingredients that are harder to digest
- Contains a high number of CFUs (colony forming units) per dose (do not be fooled by individual bacteria counts, which are irrelevant)
- Bacteria must tolerate stomach acids, salts and other stressful conditions in the gut
Despite the hype, there are some probiotic brands with good reputations. I asked my green and healthy blogger friends for advice and the names that rose to the top were Renew Life and Jarrow for capsules and Miessence and Amazing Grass for superfood, probiotic powders.
I want to tell you a bit about the brand I’ve been using lately. InLiven Probiotic Superfood is more than just a probiotic – it’s a superfood blend made from whole fruits, vegetables and grains. It is not a pill or a capsule, but rather is a powder that can be mixed with water, into a smoothie or sprinkled on food. I’ve been mixing it with carrot juice in the mornings or into a smoothie if I make one for breakfast. I haven’t noticed any particular change in my body after taking it (I don’t tend to have digestive problems), but I certainly feel healthy and I know I’m taking care of my oh-so-important gut.
Not only does InLiven come from a company with a great reputation for quality, but after doing my research I can tell it has a lot going for it in terms of gut health and overall nutrition:
- Contains the complete lactobacillus family of 13 strains
- Created from 26 whole foods – from adzuki beans to zucchini (including super healthy spirulina)
- The entire product is certified organic - even the bacteria
- Formula is predigested by the bacteria for 3 weeks before bottling, allowing the bacteria and nutrients to be 100% available to the body
- Contains prebiotics as well as probiotics
- Contains 18 important amino acids and 81 essential enzymes
The downside? It’s a bit pricey at almost $75 for a 30 day supply. But it packs a ton of good nutrition for gut health and your entire body will thank you for it. If you would like to try InLiven Superfood (or any other Miessence products), you can get 20% off from elyorganics. Follow this link for a special promo code: http://ht.ly/x5ic0
Do you take a probiotic supplement?
Header image credit: Sandrine Love via flickr cc