6 Things To Know About Probiotics Before Taking Them
Probiotics are a type of good bacteria that can provide you with a range of health benefits when taken in the right amounts. These live microorganisms are said to restore the healthy balance of gut bacteria in your digestive system, regulating your bowel movements and improving your overall immune system, and are also said to help manage stress levels, and control anxiety and depression.
Every country has a difference stance on probiotic usage and it’s recommended that you seek medical advice if you’re unsure about whether you should start on a course. But there are some general things to know before taking them — scroll the gallery to check out what they are.
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1. You need to select the specific organisms needed for your body
Like all other microorganisms, probiotics come in many variations and are classified into two main groups. Lactobacillus is the most common probiotic and is found in yogurt and fermented food. It can help with diarrhea and is also good for those who have trouble digesting lactose. Another common probiotic is bifidobacterium, which can be found in dairy products like cheese and and helps alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.
Choosing the right type of probiotic helps you address your specific concerns and optimise your overall health.
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2. Side effects may include gas or bloating
Some people have reported that they suffer from a temporary increase in gas and bloating after taking probiotics. This isn’t all that surprising as our bodies need time to adjust to new internal conditions. Those taking yeast-based probiotics may also experience constipation and increased thirst. But fret not, these effects usually go away within a few days of continued intake. If you experience cognitive impairment and bloat that lasts for longer than a few days, consult your doctor.
To reduce the likelihood of side effects, begin with a low dose of probiotics and slowly up your intake to a full dosage after a few weeks of continued use.
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3. The probiotic strain used in many food items may not be helpful
While yogurt is indeed a good source of beneficial probiotics, it isn’t the best. Today’s commercially mass-produced yogurt isn’t manufactured according to the traditional method of making yogurt with cultured raw milk. Commercial yogurt is usually made from factory-farmed, pasteurised and homogenised milk that may even contain genetically engineered hormones and artificial sweeteners, all of which affects the organisms that are beneficial to our bodies. In fact, some clinical trials have shown that these commercial products contain too little good bacteria to offer the health benefits you seek. These yogurts may be a source of nutrients like calcium, magnesium and zinc, but may not be your best choice if you’re looking to up your gut health.
To be considered a probiotic food, yogurt must contain at least one billion active probiotic cultures of a recognized probiotic species per serving, and according to Health Canada, many commercial yogurts fall well short of this.
4. Probiotics should be paired with prebiotics
Prebiotics are made up of non-digestable food elements that enable probiotics to flourish in your gut. Some examples of prebiotics include bananas, asparagus, garlic, and onions. These fibres act as food and fuel for the probiotics, allowing them to work more efficiently to maintain a healthy environment in your body. It’s that extra push that maximises the function of probiotics.
5. They should be taken at the right time
Probiotics are best taken 15 to 30 minutes before breakfast because this is when the bacteria has the highest chance of survival due to the acidic nature of the gut. Avoid taking probiotics together with acidic foods such as soda, juice, alcohol and very hot foods as they can kill microbes and greatly deplete their functional purposes.
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6. You need to know how to store them
Try not to store your probiotic supplements in the bathroom medicine cabinet or the kitchen cupboard as these places have fluctuating temperatures that can result in a stark change in moisture levels, thereby compromising on the effectiveness of your products. Check the labels to ensure if they need to be stored in the fridge. If not, tuck them away in a cool, dry and dark place.
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