dietetics, wellness

Probiotics: What You Need to Know

As a woman in her 20’s with a type-A personality, I’ve developed a pretty vigorous bedtime routine. My skincare regimen includes a bajillion steps, I brush my teeth for a strict two minutes while doing squats, I put lotion on every inch of my body, and I use my rose quartz facial roller to de-puff and boost blood circulation in my face. 

And I text my mom to tell her goodnight.

How cool, laid-back, and ~spontaneous~ am I?  

Let’s just acknowledge that this is ridiculous and move on, shall we?

The last step in my routine is something that many people might not consider, which is supplements. I’ve never been a huge supplement junkie, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in studying nutrition, it’s that aiming to consume our nutrients through food rather than pills is the most effective and least expensive way to take care of ourselves. I could go off on this topic for hours, so I’ll save it for a later blog post.

Along with a multivitamin, one supplement that I do take is a probiotic. If you’re unfamiliar with probiotics, let me give you the low-down: 

Probiotics are live, “good” bacteria. Each of us has a different combination of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa in our gut called our “microbiome”. Each person’s microbiome is different, like snowflakes. Probiotics help to diversify our microbiome, which can provide health benefits for our digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. 

While probiotics may be helpful for people with digestive/tummy issues, on antibiotics, or recurring urinary or reproductive system issues (think yeast infections, UTI’s, etc), it’s not completely necessary that everyone takes a probiotic supplement. Why? Because many foods are already home to loads of good bacteria. 

Some of these include: 

  • Yogurt
  • Pickles 
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir 
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso soup
  • Some cheeses
  • Sourdough bread
  • Tempeh
Okay, but just look at this tomato basil cheddar I got at the farmer’s market

If you’re a regular consumer of some of these foods, chances are you are probably fine without a probiotic. However, if you’re experiencing some of the symptoms above, it might be helpful to join the probiotic gang and see if it helps out! 

When choosing a probiotic, it’s important to choose the right type of bacteria. Each type contains multiple different “strains” that help with a different problem; kind of like how different shampoos are made for different types of hair. 

  • For tummy issues, look for strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
  • For vaginal issues, look for strains of Lactobacillus bacteria

Get the most out of your probiotic by consuming foods rich in fiber. This is important because fiber helps promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Foods high in fiber include fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

For the past few months, I’ve been feeling like I could lick a carrot and still get outrageously bloated after. Since I don’t eat many probiotic foods, I decided to try taking a probiotic with Lactobacillus plantarum, which is being studied by gastroenterologists for gas and bloating. While I haven’t been on it long, I feel like it’s helping, and I no longer lay in bed at night feeling like I swallowed a puffer fish. Yay science! 

I should really get One A Day and Nature’s Bounty to sponsor me

Whether your tummy is angry at you, or you’re not feeling your best downstairs (your vagina, ladies), adding some good bacteria into your diet could be what you need to feeling better. Can I get a, “bacteri-YAY-?” (If you’re surprised by how lame that was, see my intro)

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