Learn the Benefits of Probiotics to Improve Your Wellbeing
It’s alive! Your new favorite supplement, that is. Probiotics have been a buzzy topic in the health and wellness world for a while. With research-backed benefits like smoother trips to the bathroom, less inflammation, and even improved mental health, it’s easy to see why the probiotic trend is here to stay.1 To better understand the benefits of probiotics, let’s dive into some background on your digestive system.
Inside your large intestine—and to a lesser extent, your small intestine—live trillions of microorganisms.2 Scientists call this population of friendly bacteria, viruses and fungi your gut microbiome.2 Just like your fingerprint, your gut microbiome is unique to you.2 These “good” bacteria are important for digestion, heart health, blood sugar control, and even your mental well-being.2 When “bad” microbes start to take over, they throw off your digestive health. That’s when you may notice symptoms such as an upset stomach, bloating, and heartburn.3 An imbalance of “friendly” and “enemy” gut bacteria has also been linked to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food intolerances, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.4
There are several steps you can take to maintain healthy levels of these friendly microbes. Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains feeds the good bacteria, allowing them to grow and multiply.5 On the flip side, foods high in added sugars are digested too quickly to nourish these organisms, causing them to starve.5 Probiotics (AKA: your microbiome’s BFF) also help.6 Probiotics are live microorganisms like the ones found in your gut.6 Simply put, consuming probiotics increases the number of good bacteria in your body, promoting that healthy balance.6
Fermented foods naturally contain healthy strains of bacteria. Try incorporating a few of these products into your meal plan:
- Yogurt6—including Greek yogurt.
- Kimchi6—a Korean condiment made with fermented veggies and spices like cabbage, radish, garlic and ginger.
- Kombucha6—fermented green or black tea that’s typically sweetened and flavored.
- Tempeh6—a Japanese protein made from fermented soybeans.
- Kefir6—a fermented milk drink that tastes like a thin yogurt.
- Sauerkraut6—fermented cabbage often served as a condiment on sandwiches.
- Some cheeses6,7—Swiss, provolone, Gouda, cheddar and cottage cheese all contain probiotics.
- Miso6—a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans and salt.
Probiotic supplements are another way to grow your unique colony of good-for-you gut bugs. Before starting a supplement regimen, it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms and health goals with your doctor or a Hy-Vee dietitian. The wide variety of pills, powders, gummies and drops can be overwhelming, especially for a probiotic-newbie. Here are a few general tips for choosing a good product:
- Know that billions are best. You may see supplements that contain a few million colony-forming units (CFUs, the measure of a supplement’s potency). Most experts agree that you will get the most benefits from probiotics when the dose of probiotics contains at least one billion CFUs.8
- Choose a supplement with a variety of strains. The most-researched types of helpful microbes are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii.8 Probiotics with a blend of these three strains provide a healthy variety of beneficial bacteria.8 After all, your digestive system contains between 300 and 500 different types of bacteria, so your probiotic should be diverse, too.9
- Watch out for additional ingredients. Some probiotic products contain dyes, thickeners and fillers like lactose and cornstarch.10 These products can upset your stomach, especially if you’re already experiencing food intolerances.10 Check the supplement label for added ingredients like these.
- Don’t forget about the expiration date. Like most foods, probiotics can expire. While consuming outdated probiotics won’t necessarily harm you, those helpful live cultures have probably died, meaning you won't get the probiotics benefits.11
While supplements can help your gut microbiome flourish, whole food sources of probiotics provide the vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber your body needs. Kick-start your day with this good-for-your gut Blueberry-Apricot Yogurt Parfait.
All you need:
¼ cup fresh blueberries
1 (5.3-oz.) container Hy-Vee vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tbsp chopped Hy-Vee dried apricots
2 tbsp Hy-Vee sliced almonds, toasted
All you do:
- Layer blueberries, Greek yogurt, dried apricots and almonds in an 8-oz. glass. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight for breakfast on the go.
Gastrointestinal symptoms like an upset stomach, bloating and heartburn make living healthfully a challenge. We can help. When you schedule a Discovery Session, you’ll meet your Hy-Vee registered dietitian, discuss your health goals, and figure out what kind of services package is right for you and your wellness journey. To learn more and schedule your complimentary Discovery Session, click here.
*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
- Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clin Pract. 2017;7(4):987. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987
- Brody H. The gut microbiome. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00194-2. Published January 29, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- Robertson R. Why The Gut Microbiome is Crucial for Your Health. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health. Published June 27, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- Khatri M. What Your Gut Bacteria Say About You. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/what-your-gut-bacteria-say-your-health. Published May 28, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- Wu K. Sugar Can Keep Good Microbes From Colonizing Your Gut. NOVA. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/sugar-keeps-good-microbes-at-bay. Published December 17, 2018. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- The Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics. Published March 9, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- Is cheese a healthy source of probiotics? Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/is-cheese-a-healthy-source-of-probiotics. Published February 1, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- How to Pick the Best Probiotic for You. The Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-pick-the-best-probiotic-for-you. Published November 9, 2018. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- Quigley EM. Gut bacteria in health and disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2013;9(9):560-569.
- Choosing the Right Probiotics. American Gastroenterological Association. https://gastro.org/practice-guidance/gi-patient-center/topic/choosing-the-right-probiotics. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- Do Probiotics Expire? Probulin. https://probulin.com/do-probiotics-expire. Published June 17, 2021. Accessed December 14. 2021.