THE ROLE OF PROBIOTICS
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
At birth, each and every one of us was exposed to bacteria, both inside and outside our body. This began a chain reaction that produced all types of bacteria. Now our gut contains trillions of bacteria. To put this into perspective, our gut contains more bacteria (both "good" and "bad") than cells throughout the rest of our body.
Some of the bacteria are known as probiotics, which are live "good" microorganisms. Over time, the amount of probiotics in our food sources has decreased due to modern agricultural practices. This is why you may need to take a probiotic supplement.
THE BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
Research shows that probiotics are effective in reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system, maintaining healthy skin and aiding in proper digestion and the absorption of nutrients. In addition, probiotics can help balance the ratio between the "good" and "bad" bacteria, which leads to better gut health, reduces pro-inflammatory processes and bolsters your overall health.
PLANT-BASED PROBIOTIC SOURCES
Sauerkraut is a fermented food that's rich in nutrients, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and probiotic bacteria. This food can improve your gut health, help your body fight infections, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel diseases and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented Napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, radish, green onion, chilli peppers and other spices and vegetables. This spicy food is full of beneficial probiotic bacteria, antioxidants and enzymes that have anti-cancer effects, reduce cholesterol and improve immunity as well as digestion.
Supplements: Probiotic supplements have a CFU (colony forming units) mark to indicate how many bacteria are able to divide and form colonies. The lower CFU supplements (5-10 billion) are meant for maintaining digestive and immune health. The higher CFU supplements (15-50 billion) may be added as a support in the treatment of specific health problems like irritable bowel syndrome. In other words, choose the right supplement with a single bacterial strain or one with multiple strains depending on your specific health condition.
Also, check out the following details on the label:
Are they from non-animal sources? Are there any irritants? Are there any added prebiotics that helps the probiotics grow in the gut?
2. Shelf life
Will all the bacterial strains keep their quality and potency at the time of expiration? Will they survive through stomach acid? Is the product shelf-stable?
By ensuring a balanced daily intake of probiotics from plant-based foods or supplements, you can boost your digestion, improve your brain-gut health and mood, and optimize your immune system.