Probiotics and Gut Health: Part 1- What are Probiotics & Why are They Important?
The importance of our gut health cannot be understated. The health of our gut determines the health of our entire body! In this next series on the blog, we are going to dive into the importance of probiotics and their relation to gut health.
First, let's look at what probiotics are. Contrary to popular belief, probiotics aren't just a pill. They are a culture of live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to our health. They most live in our large intestine, and have a variety of functions which we will cover in a second. The body contains a mixture of "good" and "bad" bacteria. Probiotics are often called the "good" or "beneficial" bacteria because they help keep our gut strong and healthy!
Probiotics are important for a variety of reasons:
1. Probiotics help protect against a leaky gut
A leaky gut is a break in the gut lining barrier, which compromises our gut health. A leaky gut can be formed from a variety of factors, including stress, gluten, refined sugar, processed vegetable oils, and lack of sleep. Leaks in our gut lining let the bad stuff in and the good stuff out, leading to an immune system response and inflammation!
2. Probiotics boost the immune system
About 60-80% of our immune system lives in our gut. If our gut isn't healthy, we can't fight off bad pathogens or bacteria!
3. Probiotics assist the digestive system
Beneficial bacteria in the gut help our digestive system properly break down food so that our body can absorb the nutrients we need. If we don't have the proper digestive elements to aid in digestion, we can suffer from bloating, IBS, constipation, and more!
4. Probiotics improve our brain, mood, and mental health
Most of our body's serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in our gut; therefore, it is critical to have the proper balance of good bacteria to support the brain and mind!
5. Probiotics keep our metabolism strong
Because our gut flora and gut health ties closely in with our thyroid function, a healthy gut leads to a strong, properly functioning thyroid, which also strengthens our metabolism.
6. Probiotics help us recover from antibiotics and trauma
Frequent doses of antibiotics over the course of year or even a lifetime add up quickly and is devastatingly damaging to the gut flora, both good and bad. In order to heal from antibiotics, we must have a strong gut flora to keep our body healthy!
On the other hand, if you suffered any sort of "health trauma" in your life (not being breast fed, frequent antibiotics as a child, being born via C-section, poor gut health of your parents, etc), your gut health and gut flora can also be compromised. Our gut constitution starts before we are even born, so if your parents health wasn't great before you, chances are it was passed along to you!
KNOW THIS: All disease begins in the gut.
Basically, if you have struggled with improper digestion, mood issues, frequent illnesses, or other health issues, your gut could be the root cause of all your problems. So often we treat the symptoms (the headaches, insomnia, constipation, etc), but we don't look for the root cause! A pill to "fix" the symptoms doesn't solve the problem. It just allows it to fester and get worse. Instead of reaching for the quick fix, focusing diligently on your gut health could be life changing for you, and it all starts with probiotics.
"A pill to 'fix' the symptoms doesn't solve the problem. It just allows it to fester and get worse."
In part II, we will cover where to find probiotics in supplement AND food form (the more important form). And in part III, we will cover other strategies for healing your gut, which again is critical to your overall health and well-being!