If you have a healthy gut, you’ll have a healthy body. It sounds simple, but getting to a healthy gut is easier said than done. The gut, as the center for absorption in the body, has a profound effect on the overall health, productivity and efficiency of our other organs and systems.
Because of the Standard American Diet (SAD, and yes, it is very sad), many often think that their digestive problems are either isolated or don’t exist. We seem to live in a culture where bloating and digestion-related stomach pains are normal and tolerated. But the truth is that most of America has digestive issues and more often than not these diseases can be linked back to gut health.
The gut is lined with hundreds of trillions of microorganisms that make up your intestinal flora. Throughout the course of a day (and certainly a lifetime) those bacteria change, grow and deplete based on a host of outside factors like diet, lifestyle, and environment. The one constant you can provide for your gut? Taking a probiotic.
Taking a probiotic is one of the best things you can do for your overall health in addition to eating a clean diet. It will contribute to the quantity and quality of your gut bacteria and help to maintain overall health.
Ora lays out a bunch of science around the benefits of a probiotic, so check that out. But first, here are some top reasons you needed to start taking a probiotic...yesterday.
1. You need to heal your gut
If you've been a SAD practitioner or have taken loads of antibiotics or anti inflammatories, your gut needs some TLC. While it’s recommended to take probiotics 1-2 times a day depending on your gut health, you can take higher doses of probiotics to have a more therapeutic, healing effect. You’ll build up your intestinal barriers and strengthen your digestion. If you tend to be mildly allergic to certain foods, you’ll find that your sensitivities and flare ups go away. And yes, you will have an easier, more predictable bathroom cycle.
2. Your metabolism will be on point.
With metabolism, we often think that you’re either born lucky or your ancestors have left you totally screwed. Though metabolism is largely predispositioned, taking a probiotic is one of the ways to increase and regulate your metabolic function because of the positive effect it has on inactive thyroid cells. People who start taking a probiotic usually experience weight loss for this reason.
3. You are what you eat, but more importantly, you are what you absorb.
Cue the cliche: “Ugh, I ate pizza last night, and today I can actually see it on my thighs.” Despite this line that’s made its way into more than a few conversations in our lives, the premise is true. The SAD is full of processed food-like items that are such a departure from what our bodies are evolutionarily predisposition to eat that we’re wreaking havoc on our digestive systems.
It’s usually only when disease presents itself or life-affecting weight gain creeps up on us that we actually make a change to our diet. But by that point, the gut is a shell of its idyllic self and is struggling to absorb the nutrients found in a healthy diet. Sure, the body may look different after changing caloric intake and caloric quality, but if the gut doesn’t have enough good bacteria to absorb the nutrients then it’s missing out on the healing effects of vitamin and mineral-rich foods. Bottom line, eating good food isn't enough if it can’t absorb nutrients properly.
4. Your gut might as well be your second brain.
There's a reason why people say, “trust your gut.” (So much so that this probiotic is named after the notion.) Human intestines house 100 million neurotransmitters and are the only other part of the body that has their own nervous system. Nourishing this “second brain” with probiotic cultures allows for increased communication and function of the gut-brain axis, aka the link between our gut health and our brain health. Studies have shown that most gut disorders are neurologically derived and vice versa, says the American Psychological Association. Probiotics have effectively treated symptoms of depression by reducing inflammation in the gut, and in general, those consistently taking probiotics have reported more stable moods.
5. The fermented foods in your diet aren’t enough.
For those of you who are done with the Standard American Diet and are lovers of all things fermented, you get a gold star! Foods like miso, kefir, kombucha or sauerkraut become filled with probiotics in the fermentation process and are necessary to a rounded healthy diet. However, it’s not a given that these probiotic foods always have prebiotics, the nondigestible fiber that probiotics thrive on. Some foods are natural prebiotics, like raw Jerusalem artichoke or raw garlic, but it can take a lot of preparation to naturally pair your prebiotic foods with your fermented probiotic foods. Taking a probiotic supplement that includes prebiotics allows for easy, synergistic absorption without the guesswork.
6. You won’t be as stuffy.
Just as bacteria line your gut, it also lines your nasal passages. Increasing the mucus coating’s bacterial health and reducing inflammation in this area will allow for clearer sinuses and reduce the risk of infection, says leading health practitioner Chris Kresser.
7. You’ll keep those pearly whites intact.
We often forget that the mouth is part of the digestive tract. It’s where all the digestive magic begins, so aiding the bacteria health in the mouth via the gut will not only help digestion but will also prevent oral diseases like gingivitis and halitosis. Yeah, that bad breath is probably coming from some digestive issue down below.
8. You’ll pop fewer pimples.
The skin is the external view of our internal health. Skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema or severe acne are all a reflection of our gut health. It’s been shown clinically that those who adopt a cleaner diet and heal the gut with the help of probiotics often see their skin conditions ease or go away altogether.
9. You won’t get sick as often.
And by this, we mean everything from the common cold to disease prevention. Strong gut flora increases immunity, stops yeast production (goodbye, candida), blocks the harmful effects of radiation, and produces healthy enzymes that in one study showed to potentially block cancerous tumor growth and aid in chemotherapy effectiveness.
10. You’ll satisfy the urge to supplement while actually doing some good.
Good health starts with a well-rounded diet, but often times supplements are necessary to help cover your nutritional bases. That said, synthetic supplements can often cause more harm than if you didn’t supplement at all. Probiotics allow for you to gain the most out of the food you’re eating while reducing systemic inflammation and with that help, your healthy food choices will positively impact your health while simultaneously satisfying the need to fortify your diet.
If you’re a probiotic virgin, may we suggest that at this point you just get it over with? Don’t wait to be romanced into it by a doctor or nutritionist. If you’re an experienced probiotic popper, then take a look at what’s in your probiotic. Does it include a prebiotic? Are there any synthetic additives that may harm the effectiveness of your probiotic?