By Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutritionist Blogger, Jeni Tackett RD, LD
You may be confused about taking a probiotic due to conflicting information on television or online. You are not alone!
Probiotics are a controversial topic in the world of nutrition. Remember that nutrition is a science, and studies are always being performed to determine the best recommendations. Let’s get down to some basics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are “good bacteria.” Our intestines and colons are full of good bacteria that help keep us well.
Taking antibiotics to rid our bodies of a bacterial infection can wipe out some of these good bugs, too.
Over time, with antibiotic use, we can deplete our bodies of probiotics. So it makes good sense to add them back!
What are the benefits of probiotics?
Probiotics are important for your gut health, and may help reduce diarrhea that can occur with antibiotic use.
Probiotics may also help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Where should I get probiotics?
Probiotics from food sources are ideal. Here are some options:
Additional strains of bacteria such as Bifidus Regularis may be added.
When choosing a yogurt, look at the ingredient list and avoid yogurts with added sugar.
Make sure yogurt contains “live and active cultures.”
Kefir is a fermented dairy product or can be made with coconut milk.
Kefir mainly contains Lactobacillus strains of bacteria and some yeast. Look for kefir without added sugars.
Other fermented foods that contain probiotics include sauerkraut, miso, natto, tempeh, and cultured nondairy yogurt.
What about probiotic supplementation?
The best sources of probiotics are the foods listed above.
There are questions about the safety of probiotic supplementation. Supplements should only be used by healthy individuals. People with weakened immunity should not take probiotics supplements.
If you choose to take a probiotic supplement, look for the USP seal which stands for United States Pharmacopia, and indicates that the supplement meets appropriate standards for safety. Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosage.
Probiotics include a CFU which stands for Colony Forming Units. CFUs are typically effective at over 1 billion.
Some probiotics may need to be refrigerated to keep the cultures alive.
Food is always the best source of probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Look for ways to add food sources of probiotics to your diet. Your gut will be glad you did!
For more information, visit the National Institutes of Health.
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Unity Point-Trinity. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|