Probiotics are often considered to be the missing link for the proper functioning of your body. In fact, research continues to uncover the many ways in which a daily source of probiotics is beneficial for a variety of health conditions, and can help promote overall wellness.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms we consume through fermented foods or supplements, which can help improve the balance of bacteria in the digestive system. Even if you’re eating a healthy, varied diet, you might still not be getting enough — or the right variety — of probiotics on a daily basis, which is why many people find that supplementing with a dietary probiotic supplement beneficial.
What Are Prebiotics?
Another important piece of the puzzle when it comes to probiotics is prebiotics. Prebiotics are foods that are typically high in fibre, and that act as food for bacteria in the human gut — aka probiotics.
Sources of Probiotics
Foods sources of probiotics include:
- Sourdough bread
- Certain cheeses
You can also get probiotics from supplements.
Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics are a type of “good” bacteria that is beneficial for restoring and maintaining the natural balance of gut bacteria. A growing body of scientific research is showing that healthy gut bacteria is essential for overall health and wellness.
Our gut microbiome can become imbalanced due to a number of factors, including poor diet, stress, antibiotics, and illness. This imbalance can result in problems such as allergies, mental health problems, digestive issues, and more.
Additionally, both human and animal studies have found probiotics to be helpful in treating mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Probiotics can also improve heart health, with some strains lowering LDL or "bad" cholesterol as well as blood pressure when taken on a regular basis.
Finally, for those with allergies and eczema, certain probiotic strains have proven an effective treatment as well as prevention, although more research is needed. Those with bowel disorders such as ulcerative colitis, IBS, and necrotizing enterocolitis can also benefit from a daily probiotic, with one study showing supplementation to be just as effective as medication.
Strains of Probiotics
There are hundreds of different types — or strains — of probiotics. Lactobacillus is one of the most common probiotic strains, and is found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Bifidobacterium is a probiotic strain that is found in some dairy products, and may help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and some other conditions. Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast found that is found in probiotics which helps with digestive problems, including diarrhea.
As with any supplement, we recommend speaking with a health care provider to determine the best probiotic strain and dosage for your specific concerns.
Why Supplement With Probiotics?
Many clinical trials and research initiatives have found that probiotics are effective in treating a variety of conditions, although efficacy and strain indication are often specific to the illness and even the person. Probiotics have been shown as a safe and effective treatment for a number of conditions, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – pouchitis and ulcerative colitis
- Acute gastroenteritis
- Immune response
- Treatment of acute diarrhea
- Prevention of Clostridium difficile diarrhea
- Prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- Prevention of upper respiratory tract infections (common cold)
Probiotics have also been shown to support healthy vaginal flora levels, as well as to aid in weight management.
Are Probiotics Safe?
Generally speaking, probiotics obtained through both dietary and supplementary routes are considered safe and well tolerated by the majority of the population. Most people take probiotic supplements with no side effects, although some people may notice bloating, gas, or nausea.
There are some concerns that probiotics could cause problems for those who are immunocompromised or critically ill, but this is yet another area where the specific strain, condition, and person being treated need to be taken into account. For that reason, we recommend speaking with a health care provider to determine the best probiotic strain and dosage for your specific concerns.
Nurture by Metagenics Probiotics
Nurture by Metagenics offers several different probiotic formulas to help with a variety of health concerns.
Our Acute Probiotic helps support intestinal health and avoid the risk of unpleasant antibiotic associated diarrhea. It’s shelf stable, meaning you don’t have to worry about finding room for it in the fridge. Each capsule contains 9.5 billion CFUs in a non-GMO, gluten-free formula.
Our Daily Probiotic is perfect for those looking to support their GI health, as it can help contribute to healthy gut flora. Each capsule of our expertly developed, dairy-free formula contains 15 billion live CFUs — guaranteed!
Our Women’s Probiotic has been specially formulated just for women to help reduce the number of bacteria and yeast on vaginal surfaces, for improved feminine health. Those with recurring UTIs or imbalanced healthy vaginal flora find this formula particularly beneficial.
And for little ones, we offer a Kid’s Probiotic in a delicious, naturally grape-flavoured chewable tablet. Each tablet contains 5 billion live CFUs that help to temporarily modify gut flora, and reduce the duration and symptoms of the common cold.