There are good and bad bacteria in your gut! The foods you eat and chemicals you are exposed to can determine how good or bad your gut health is. Gut bacteria has a direct effect on how much inflammation you have in your body, and eating foods that are made with sugar and other chemicals can create an imbalance that can cause health issues. Fortunately, probiotics are an easy way to support good gut health by helping your good bacteria thrive and maintaining a healthy balance.
What are probiotics?
Probiotic supplements contain live organisms that promote the growth of the good flora that exists by decreasing inflammation in your digestive tract. “Supporting your gut health with probiotics can help boost your immune system and regulate your digestive system,” said Brenda Hewitt, FNP-C with CMC Primary Care at Postal Way. “Not only can you take supplements to get your daily dose, but probiotics also occur naturally in many foods that you can eat.”
It’s important to promote the growth of good bacteria in your body to offset the bad bacteria that can cause harm. “Things like antibiotics, chlorinated water, pesticides, and food preservatives can kill off your good bacteria,” said Brenda. “So, it’s important to find ways to introduce probiotics or good bacteria back into your system.”
What are the benefits of probiotics?
“When you increase the amount of good bacteria and gut flora in your body, it helps detoxify your system and absorb more nutrients that are good for you,” explained Brenda. “You’d be surprised how much this can affect your body and areas such as your skin, joints, bones, gut and brain, your response to infections, how often you get sick, your immune system, and regulating your bowel movements.”
How do I add probiotics to my diet?
Before you add probiotics to your diet, it’s important to talk to your Primary Care provider. Some people with compromised immune systems and illnesses may need to avoid the addition of bacteria in their system, either good or bad.
For those who are encouraged to take probiotics, there are many options for getting your daily dose and your PCP can help you decide which are best for you. “You can take a probiotic supplement or you can introduce foods like yogurt or others rich in probiotics into your meal plan,” said Brenda.
Some of the easiest things to include in your diet are:
Yogurt – plain Greek yogurt is best- add fresh or frozen fruit and nuts for additional nutrients and honey or maple syrup for sweetener
Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, pickles, beets, and kimchi (homemade is best)
Fermented cheeses like cottage cheese
Probiotics enhance your health by fighting off toxins that you come in contact with daily, helping introduce beneficial nutrients, aiding in the functions of your immune and digestive systems, and decreasing inflammation.
Brenda Hewitt, FNP-C
Brenda Hewitt, FNP-C is passionate about helping her patients acquire and maintain optimal health while living a health lifestyle. Her focus is on wellness care for all ages with an emphasis on nutrition, exercise, vitamin D deficiency, and gut health.
Brenda is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner.