Cups of Probiotics are lined up on a table at a Frisco coffee shop.

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People are constantly talking about the latest wellness craze, and how you simply MUST do this or that in order to maintain ideal health. Often times, you can feel a bit behind the curve, and you’re not sure exactly what everybody is talking about! One of these buzzwords lately is “probiotics”, and people toss it around as if it is a miracle cure-all for all our aches and pains. But do people really understand what role including these play in our health, or are they just jumping on the bandwagon?

The truth is, there are many, many benefits of including probiotics into your daily diet. The problem is that they are a little misunderstood. Let’s review what probiotics are and the role they play in our digestive health, and then we will go over how to find them (in food and supplements) and incorporate them into your life.

What Exactly ARE Probiotics, and How Are They Beneficial?

There are “germies” and bacteria that can cause illness and diseases, but it’s critical to understand that not all bacteria and yeasts are bad. Some are actually quite beneficial for you and improve your overall digestive system functionality. These are called probiotics, and they are essentially “helpful” bacteria that keep your belly running smoothly and healthily. When consumed, probiotics can provide many benefits to your digestion, your heart health, and your weight management processes. These live microorganisms can also be known to prevent and treat some illnesses, so it’s a good idea not to overlook adding them to your diet!

How Specifically Do Probiotics Help Our Bodies Function Better?

Balance is critical in gut health, and probiotics quite simply help maintain a friendly balance in our digestive tract. Their abilities can prevent and treat common GI distresses, including diarrhea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, probiotics can reduce the severity of differen skin disorders, such as psoriasis and eczema, as well as quell the onset of various allergens in our environment. Believe it or not, probiotics have also been proven to keep your heart healthy (by lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and potentially lowering blood pressure) AND assist with various mental health disorders (various studies have demonstrated that probiotic consumption decreased depression levels and improved symptoms of people suffering from anxiety and stress).

What Are Examples of Probiotics?

The most common form of probiotics is found in food that is fermented or cultured. Examples of this are found in all grocery stores and include things like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and pickles. Other favorites include buttermilk, kombucha, and tempeh. If these are familiar to you, it will be easy to incorporate them into your daily diet. If they are new food items to you, it could be a great idea to branch out and try some new things! (It’s always an option to ferment these things at home, too. Be sure to use sterile equipment throughout the process.) Supplemental forms of probiotics are also available at health food stores, generally in the refrigerated section.

As always, be sure to consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your diet and overall health. However, in general, including probiotic-rich foods into your life can be a simple solution to increase your overall health and wellness!

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