If you’ve been taught to view bacteria as a bad thing, you’re only half right. There are both good and bad bacteria in your body. Good bacteria naturally exists in cultured or fermented food and may offer many digestive health benefits. Good bacteria helps crowd out unwanted organisms to allow more good bacteria to be present in your gut microbiome.
These good bacteria are known as probiotics, and they help keep your digestive system healthy and functioning well. Supplements can be the most convenient way to ingest the probiotics you need to help balance your gut bacteria. Maximize your probiotic supplementation and get the most benefits by following these recommendations.
What are Probiotics?
You’ve probably heard the word thrown around, but what are probiotics and how do they work? Probiotics are all of your gut’s natural living cultures, otherwise known as your gut’s “good bacteria.” The main job of these microorganisms is to keep your gut microbiome balanced by changing or encouraging your intestinal flora to repopulate. When your gut flora is balanced and thriving, your immune system benefits as does the health of your gut. It’s better able to function and do its job. You can consume probiotics through fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, or foods with live cultures, like sauerkraut and kimchi, just to name a few.
When to Take Probiotics
Because your intestinal lining sloughs off every day, and probiotics work by attaching transiently to your intestinal lining, many probiotic supplements should be taken daily. The time of day doesn’t matter, but its important to take a probiotic with a meal, especially with foods and/or beverages that are not hot in temperature (see next section). Be sure to choose a time that fits your schedule and is easy to remember. Whatever time you choose to take your probiotic supplement, stick to it consistently.
How to Take Probiotics
Food helps neutralize stomach acid that can be damaging to probiotics, so always take these dietary supplements with a meal. Wash them down with a cold or room-temperature beverage, but don’t take probiotics with your morning cup of coffee, as heat can render the probiotic less effective
How to Properly Store Probiotics
Probiotics used to have to be refrigerated, but most manufacturers have developed supplements that are stable at room temperature. Read the label first, but most probiotic supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place, with no refrigeration required.
How to Give Probiotics More Power
Help give your probiotics strength by maintaining a healthy diet. Since a poor diet likely led to your digestive issues to begin with, changing it even a little could be beneficial. You may not be able to cut out all greasy foods, however, try eating more fruits and vegetables. These, and other foods rich in fiber, help probiotic bacteria flourish.
There are several other foods you can eat to incorporate probiotics into your diet, too. The most natural sources are foods that are fermented, such as pickles from cucumbers. The process of fermenting foods helps to preserve them and promote a variety of good bacteria
Yogurt may be one of the most universally consumed sources since it can be used in so many different ways, like salad dressings, sauces, and marinades.
Bad bacteria isn’t the only thing that affects your digestive system — stress can wreak havoc on your digestive tract too. Help yourself by getting rid of some stress. Learn relaxation techniques, join a yoga class, get more exercise or spend more time on a hobby. Focus on your overall well-being, and you may find that your stomach is tied up in knots less often, both figuratively and physically.
How to Choose the Right Probiotic Supplement
The right probiotic supplement may help support healthy digestion and gut environment to help ease your digestive concerns. Searching for supplements for digestion? Nature Made® offers three different probiotic formulations, each formulated with probiotics strains that have been clinically studied and each gentle enough for everyday use.
For more comprehensive coverage, choose Nature Made® Advanced Dual Action Digestive Probiotics.† This formula contains just two bacteria strains, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium lactis, to help support a healthy gut flora.† One probiotic strain targets the small intestine (to naturally help relieve occasional gas, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort) and the other targets the large intestine (to naturally help relieve occasional constipation, irregularity).† Lactobacillus plantarum works in the small intestine to naturally help relieve occasional gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.† Bifidobacterium lactis works in the large intestine to naturally help relieve occasional constipation and irregularity.†
Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any probiotics to ensure that they don’t interfere with any prescription drugs you may also be taking. Also, check that the prescription drug and probiotic combination doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of the probiotics. Once you’ve established your probiotic regimen on a consistent daily basis, you may start seeing — or feeling — results in approximately two weeks.
Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008, September 15). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system [Scholarly project]. In US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/
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