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The truth about probiotics

In today’s health obsessed world, it’s difficult to differentiate between the latest wellness fad and a health enhancer that will benefit you for years to come. As a certified health coach with a passion for all things natural, I want to give my clients (and all those who want to listen!) the lowdown on how to look and feel healthier. 

Wellness affects every part of our lives, but nurturing our body, mind, and soul begins with what we eat. Probiotics have been heavily advertised throughout the health and wellness market in recent years. But could feasting on this ‘good bacteria’ really provide the boost we need – especially during winter?

In this blog post, we dig a little deeper into the benefits of taking probiotics and reveal the all-natural, nutritious alternatives that are just as good, if not better.

An introduction to probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that have been bottled and promoted as the ultimate elixir. They’re no new thing, probiotics have been added to yoghurts and used as supplements for a number of years. 

But with almost every UK household rating eating healthy foods as a top priority, there’s been a real push to promote these friendly bacteria. Good health after all starts in the gut, and evidently the microorganisms that live there need a boost to keep things ticking along nicely.

Our gut is our immune system’s powerhouse, a fact that makes taking probiotics a popular choice for many. But how do they work? Here our friends over at WebMD explain just that:

“Researchers are trying to figure out exactly how probiotics work. Some of the ways they may keep you healthy:

When you lose ‘good’ bacteria in your body, for example after you take antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them.

They can help balance your ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria to keep your body working the way it should.”

The benefits of taking probiotics

Billed as a poignant battle between good and bad bacteria, taking probiotics unlocks more benefits than you may think. Though scientific evidence is limited in the field, people taking probiotics on a regular basis report better gut health, particularly for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Probiotics are also thought to help people recover faster from symptoms of various illnesses, such as traveller’s diarrhoea, cold and flu as well as the negative effects of taking a course of antibiotics. There’s emerging evidence to support the use of probiotics for sufferers of type 2 diabetes, with studies showing a significant improvement in cholesterol levels.

Those looking to reap the rewards of general gut health and better immunity however should think more long term. Research shows that only individuals taking the right probiotics at the right dosage over a long period of time will enjoy these benefits.

Enjoying an all-natural alternative

So as the jury is out as to which combination of probiotics may be most helpful, you don’t have to spend a fortune on beautifully packaged probiotic drinks and supplements. 

The best way to enjoy the health benefits that probiotics promote is by making a few simple changes to your diet. 

Through eating certain natural ingredients you can enhance gut health and immunity in much the same way. Probiotics naturally occur in many foods, including sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, natural yoghurt, kimchi, and miso. 

Swapping your daily brew for a nice cup of kombucha – a fermented Chinese tea packed with friendly bacteria and yeast – will also unlock plenty of probiotic goodness in your diet. 

Consider making your own gut friendly foods. Sauerkraut and kimchi are both so simple to put together. Homemade versions of these all-natural alternatives contain far more bugs than shop bought varieties. You can also tailor the amount of spice you use by adding extra gut loving garlic, turmeric and ginger for example, ingredients that are all so great for us to eat more of.

Looking after your probiotic gut bugs

Stocking up on foods that contain prebiotics is another must. Everyday ingredients like oats, bananas, onions, leeks, and garlic contain prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that work wonders when nourishing your gut’s microorganisms. 

As types of dietary fibre, prebiotics are essentially the food that probiotic bugs live off. So, make sure your probiotic gut bugs have plenty to eat by ensuring you eat a good supply of prebiotic foods.

Why now is the best time to begin

There’s no better time to start your probiotic (and prebiotic) health kick than right now, particularly as the weather grows colder and our immune systems take a hammering from the seasonal bugs floating around. 

Adding more probiotic enriched foods to your diet will provide the boost you need this winter with your digestive health, immune function, skin and overall appearance all feeling the positive benefits. Discover more tips for eating your way to glowing skin right here.

Your immune health will also receive a much needed boost from a probiotic and prebiotic rich diet. Your gut bugs will have the fuel they require to fight cold and flu bugs, as well as adapt to the many seasonal changes our bodies experience as the colder weather sets in. 

In addition to making a few simple changes to your diet and adding all-natural, probiotic rich ingredients to the mix, buying organic produce at source or growing your own can also make a big difference. Rinsing, not scrubbing clean, fruits and vegetables still covered in soil will give you access to more gut health boosting goodness. Find out more about why dirt is really good for you.

your body is a bank and great food choices are your investments

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