“Wash those dirty hands, they are covered with germs”…we’ve all heard variations of this phrase time and time again, especially in our youth. Many of us were taught to fear bacteria, germs, and microscopic organisms. While there are certainly some bacteria and microscopic organisms we want to avoid, there are many others that we should welcome with open arms—with probiotics being at the top of the list.
Over the past few decades, probiotics have risen in popularity both in medical science circles and the health and wellness community. As a matter of fact, when you hear the term you likely think of popular yogurts, kombucha, or maybe even kefir.
So, what exactly are probiotics?
According to the World Health Organization, probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. In simple terms, they are beneficial bacteria that help promote gut health.
There are actually trillions, yes trillions with a “t”, of bacteria in your body with a majority residing in your gut. Together these bacteria make up what is commonly referred to as the gut microbiome which plays a vital role in both gut health and overall health.
Probiotics are living beneficial bacteria, similar to the fora that occur naturally in the body, that promote a balanced gut microbiome. They are commonly available as supplements and can be found in fermented foods including yogurt, kimchi, raw sauerkraut, kombucha, and more.
By now, you might be thinking, “if I already have trillions of bacteria in my body why do I need more?” Well, it’s all about balance. Today, we are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to maintaining a balanced gut microbiome. Many negative factors including processed foods, constant stress, antibiotics, and more actually eliminate your good bacteria making it important to continually replenish it.
What do probiotics have to offer?
Let’s be honest, the very thought of intentionally consuming bacteria may not be all that appealing. However, if you look at it from the perspective of what you have to gain then you might find yourself more easily persuaded. So, what exactly do probiotic supplements offer?
- Promote gut health. Probiotics have been shown to have numerous positive effects on the functioning of the digestive tract both directly and indirectly. First and foremost they help seed your gut with beneficial bacteria that help maintain the balance of your ever-important gut microbiome. They also help maintain the proper pH levels in the gut and produce enzymes and other chemical compounds that aid directly in both digestion and peristalsis.
- Support immune function. Probiotics have also been shown to support the immune system by promoting the production of antibodies. This reserve of antibodies becomes very useful when the body is exposed to harmful bacteria and fungi. The immune system doesn’t have to waste time creating protective compounds from scratch. It just uses the blueprint provided by the exposure to probiotics.
- Control overgrowth of harmful bacteria. When it comes to the war between your body and harmful bacteria, probiotics are on your side. They work indirectly by competing for resources with these pathogenic microorganisms by utilizing the resources and crowding out the bad guys. In other words, probiotics help maintain the balance of the gut microbiome by promoting good bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria helping to keep both you and your gut healthy.
How probiotics get their names?
Probiotics usually go by their scientific names. The first is the name of the genus which is a group of bacteria or fungi with similar structural or functional features. These include the Lactobacilli, Bifidobacterium, Enterococcus, and many other species.
The species is more specific and often has very unique defining features whether at a physical, chemical, or molecular level.
The final name is obtained from combining the genus and the species and in case there are variants in the species there may be letters appointed for differentiation.
Common strains you may find in probiotic supplements.
There are hundreds of options when it comes to strains of probiotics. Here are two of the most common families, popular strains, and the benefits that come with them.
- Bifidobacteria. This is one of the first groups of probiotics that we are exposed to when we are born thanks to breastmilk and a toddler’s curiosity for putting “everything” in their mouth.
They exist primarily in the gut and promote gut health through the direct and indirect methods mentioned above. Some of the most common strains include Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium breve.
- Lactobacillus. This is one of the most prolific groups of probiotics and can be found everywhere from the digestive and urinary systems to the female genital tracts. They are commonly found in fermented dairy including cheese and yogurt.
In the gut, they help with the breakdown of some foods by producing enzymes. They also help maintain pH balance in all their systems for optimum function. Strains in this genus include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
Choose the probiotic that is right for you.
When it comes to selecting your probiotic supplements, quality and safety are of the utmost importance. And, ensuring your supplements are third-party certified is an excellent way to help ensure quality and efficacy. After all, you want to know that you are receiving exactly what it says on the label. With that, choosing a reputable high-quality manufacturer will go a long way when it comes to selecting your probiotic supplements.
At New Earth we are on a mission to positively impact the health of every body and soul we come in contact with. We specialize in producing third-party certified , organic whole food supplements including a variety of probiotics, and digestive support. Our supplements feature a rare, yet highly, nutritious superfood, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Also known as organic Wild Microalgae® , AFA is a unique type of blue-green algae that is available in many forms including algae tablets, algae pills, and algae powders all designed to help you on your journey to holistic wellness. The best part, we offer a 90-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all of our products. Visit our website to learn more.