Incorporating probiotics into your daily food intake is a great way to stay healthy and prepare the body to heal itself naturally, reducing the need for medicine in the long run. There are various foods with probiotics, health supplements and probiotic drinks that you can consume to avail their health benefits.
Each type of bacterial species or strain contributes in a certain manner to enhance bodily functions, so consider taking a variety of probiotics on a weekly basis, in addition to daily probiotics that you ingest through food or dietary supplements. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of probiotics more extensively, especially when you face certain health issues.
There are two main ways in which you can consume probiotic bacteria:
- Probiotics through Food – Consuming probiotics through food is the most natural way to avail their health benefits and has been a part of traditional food culture in various parts of the world for generations. Intake of probiotics in the form of fermented dairy products, fruit, vegetable and grains is an age old concept that is practiced all over the world.
- Probiotics through Supplements – Deciding between various probiotic supplements requires a little more effort. From pills, powders to liquids, probiotics offer various live healthy bacteria strains that tackle different ailments in the body, especially in the gastrointestinal, vaginal and urinary tracts. The wide range of probiotics supplements available these days ensure that there is a perfect fit for everyone, no matter their age.
It’s also important to note that probiotic bacteria are live and hence require care in terms of appropriate storage conditions. Taking in only the necessary dosage and what works for the body is also imperative. While probiotics are treated as dietary supplements, it’s important to address them with the same care that you would devote to traditional medicine.
How to Select the Right Probiotic for Your Needs
Ingested through these probiotic foods and supplements, different strains of beneficial bacteria enter the body and form colonies that increase the levels of good bacteria within it. They help with the processing of nutrients, manufacturing of vitamins, boosted immunity and digestion, and more.
Check out the following points, which act as an easy-to-follow guide on how to take probiotics:
- Switch to a Probiotic-Rich Diet
Everyone already consumes probiotic foods in some form, whether in the form of milk, cheese or pickles. There are many forms of fermented drinks and food with probiotics, which you can include in your diet with ease.
Learning about their health benefits brings with it a real understanding of how they work, and why more probiotics should be incorporated in your everyday diet – whether in the form of food or probiotic supplements to boost health.
- Analyze Your Health Issues and Goals
Analyzing health issues and setting goals is necessary, since everyday factors like bad eating habits, stressful work environments and pollution can hamper your health. These factors also have a negative effect on the good bacteria that aims to keep the body health.
Eating right and exercising is crucial, since your body needs all the help it can get. Probiotics offer different health benefits and provide much needed energy, but you need to know what your health goals are and formulate a plan to help you reach them!
- How Long/Often to Take Supplements
Taking probiotics with food helps to improve digestion, but it is important to realize that probiotics take time to adjust to the system and vice versa. There are a few minor side effects that may occur as the bacteria sets up colonies in the gut, but they typically dissipate after a week or two.
The best way to help probiotics repopulate the gut is by taking them on an empty stomach (two hours after a meal), initially in small doses till the body acclimatizes to the bacteria, and then continuing with the dosage as per the instructions on the supplement’s label.
- Ingredients and Accuracy
It is of utmost importance to pay close attention to the ingredients on the label of a probiotic supplement before purchase, to confirm its viability and also avoid possible allergic reactions to certain elements, additives or fillers that may be in it.
With producers trying to make hay while the sun shines, certain probiotics supplements may not live up to the mark. Be sure to
check the accuracy of the product’s claims and the details of its ingredients before you buy it and start using it.
- Proper Storage
Proper storage of probiotics is key, since the bacteria present in them are in the form of live cultures that need to be thriving in order to multiply in the gut successfully. All probiotic supplement labels come with instructions for storage.
Certain products require refrigeration, like dairy-based supplements and juices, while others do not, so make sure you understand and follow any special instructions for the probiotic that you’re interested in taking.
- Check the Expiration Dates
All living things must eventually die, and so do the friendly live probiotic bacteria in the supplement that you’re buying. Make sure to purchase the best probiotic products in smaller batches, even when you’re tempted to ‘stock up’ in one go.
This way, you can use them up well in time, and avoid a situation where it expires before the completion of the required dosage. Remember to keep note of expiry dates or check before you ingest them, since dead bacteria will have no probiotic benefits at all!
- Type/Strain of Bacteria
The body hosts over 5600 different strains of bacteria within it. Probiotic bacteria have multiple strains too, and each one offers a different health benefit or capacity to help balance the existing bacteria in the body. So, check the strain and take one that you need.
While probiotics are mainly known to improve digestive and immune systems, multi strain probiotics can be very powerful tools in helping to prevent and treat serious diseases. It’s a good idea to consult a physician before use, especially for the very young, elderly, or those with weak immunity.
- Probiotic Dosage/CFUs
All probiotic supplements provide instructions on the labels that must be adhered to, which includes the dosage that needs to be ingested, as per the measure of the colony forming units (CFU’s) in each dose.
The number of colony forming units in a probiotics supplement defines how rich it is in terms of effectiveness. For most general-use probiotics, supplements with 15 to 100 billion CFUs are ideal, but ask for expert assistance if you’re trying to treat a specific condition.
- Look for Special Features
Look for probiotic supplements that feature enteric coatings or other delayed release characteristics, which improve the chances that live cultures will survive your digestive acids long enough to colonize your gut. Manufacturers will list these features on the labels.
It’s also a good idea to consider supplements that are resistant to stomach acid, for the same reasons, and consider choosing probiotics that state a minimum CFU count guaranteed till the product’s expiration, or the end of its shelf life.
- Quality and Reputation Checks
Search for probiotic reviews online, to understand whether a particular supplement is as effective as it claims to be. A probiotic review from consumers who’ve bought it can also tell you about the manufacturer’s service and commitment to quality.
This is one of the most essential steps in finding the best probiotics, since you may otherwise end up buying low quality products that lose up to half of their stated CFUs before you even get around to ingesting them!
A little research on how to take probiotics and make them a part of everyday diet can go a long way when it comes to achieving healthy functionality of vital systems. Studying the various means of consuming probiotics and understanding what makes them tick is an enriching experience, especially when you see their results for both the body and the mind!