Digestive problems are never fun! Suffering regular tummy troubles might not only send you to the bathroom more often than you’d like, but it could keep you in bed all day, and affect regular daily routines in the process. Accidentally taking in food or water from unsanitary sources might land you with a case of diarrhoea.
Did you know that you can effectively support healthy digestive system function with probiotics? Let’s take a look at some of the best probiotics for gut health.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms that can help create balance in your tummy. They contain many kinds of microorganisms, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii (1,2) that help eliminate bad bacteria to prevent infections.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut (3). You may also take them in the form of supplements to help with bowel discomfort, relieve symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea, and maintain overall digestive system function.
The best probiotic for gut health
So, what is the best gut health supplement? It would be good to remember that the best thing you can do for your gut health isn’t to depend on just a single strain of probiotics, but several.
Experts suggest choosing probiotic products that have at least 1 billion colony forming units and contain strains like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium or Saccharomyces boulardii (4).
Both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, and improve gastrointestinal barrier function (5). Lactobacillus rhamnosus, another type of probiotic, supports optimal function of the gut ecosystem. On the other hand, Saccharomyces boulardii helps treat diarrhoea.
A probiotic supplement containing multiple strains like the ones mentioned above ensures that your gut health bounces back from whatever you throw at it.
Understanding gut flora
Probiotics for gut health promote a healthy balance of gastrointestinal flora. The gastrointestinal flora, also known as gut flora, is made up of a combination of “good” and “bad” bacteria that naturally live in the stomach and intestines (6).
“Good bacteria” or beneficial microorganisms help digest food and kill viruses, fungi, and bad bacteria. "Bad bacteria" on the other hand, are opportunistic microorganisms that are linked to diseases. Bad bacteria include the likes of yeast and Streptococci, and the best way for you to stay clear of them is to take the best probiotic for your gut health.
Bacterial imbalance in the gut
Many things can throw off our digestive system. Medications, poor nutrition and exponential growth of bad bacteria can upset the balance of our gastrointestinal flora. However, proper digestive care can help you to manage their impact.
Here are some cases where you might need probiotics:
Antibiotics are meant to eradicate bad bacteria, but they may also end up killing your beneficial gut bacteria (6). This may result in an overgrowth of bad bacteria, or yeast which can negatively impact digestion.
Bowel discomfort may give you abdominal pain and cramping, inflict changes in your bowel movement regularities and alter the appearance of your stool (7). Those who suffer from bowel discomfort have less of a balance in their gut bacteria compared to healthy people.
Traveller’s diarrhoea usually occurs when you travel to a place with substandard public hygiene (8). It is caused by drinking water or eating food that contains bad bacteria. You might have eaten something from a street stall, or consumed unfiltered water. Under these circumstances, you may find yourself with nausea, throwing up, experiencing bloating and cramping, and/or feeling tired and feverish.
How do probiotics help?
Probiotics for gut health help restore the balance of healthy microorganisms after this balance has been disturbed (1).
By balancing out the friendly flora in our gut, probiotics help maintain and support healthy bowel function and intestinal health. This is why taking probiotics is important as it goes beyond preparing for any holiday - you’d be improving how you operate daily too!
When paired with a healthy lifestyle, choosing the best probiotic for your gut health ensures that you can go through life without worrying about bloating, cramping, irritable bowels, and diarrhoea. You’d be able to exercise, work, and go about daily life with minimal discomfort.
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Learn more about other areas that probiotics can help you with, plus other similar supplements that can benefit in different ways:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
1. NHS. Probiotics. NHS. Last reviewed November 2018 on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/probiotics/ . Accessed on 17 July 2021
2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Probiotics: What You Need to Know. NCCIH. Last updated August 2019 on https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know . Accessed on 17 July 2021
3. Mayo Clinic Health System. An introduction to probiotics. Mayo Clinic Health System. Published May 2018 on https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/an-introduction-to-probiotics . Accessed on 17 July 2021
4. Cleveland Clinic. How to Pick the Best Probiotic for You. Cleveland Clinic. Published November 9, 2018 on https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-pick-the-best-probiotic-for-you/ . Accessed on July 30, 2021
5. Azad, M., Sarker, M., Li, T., Yin, J., 2018. “Probiotic species in the modulation of gut microbiota: AN overview.” BioMed Research International, 9478630. 10.1155/2018/9478630 . See more at https://research.vitable.com.au/probiotics
6. Eamonn M. M. Quigley. Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease. NCBI. Published September 9, 2013 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983973/ . Accessed on July 30, 2021
7. Mayo Clinic. Irritable bowel syndrome. Mayo Clinic. Published October 2020 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016 . Accessed on 17 July 2021
8. John Hopkins Medicine. Traveler's diarrhea. John Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Published on https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/travelers-diarrhoea . Accessed on 17 July 2021