What are probiotics
To talk about probiotics, is to talk about bacteria. Most people are not aware of this, but a big part of our bodies is actually made up of bacteria. In fact, with more than trillions of bacteria living inside of us, they outnumber our cells 10:1, making some speculate that we are actually more microbes than humans. Now, that is not as bad as it sounds. Bacterias come as good or bad, and if you’re lucky (and healthy), the majority of the bacteria in you should be good ones, a.k.a. probiotics.
What are probiotics good for? Why should we take probiotics?
With about one kilogram of our body weight made up of probiotics, they play an essential role in our health and wellbeing. Let us go through a few of them.
Helps digest and absorb nutrients
When we talk about the “gut”, we generally refer to the large and small intestines. Their job is to extract energy and nutrients from the food that we eat, as well as remove waste. But as our gut can’t extract all of the necessary nutrients from the food on its own, we need the help from the healthy bacterias. They will aid in breaking down the food, which in turn will improve your immune system, and strengthen the intestinal walls. If we don’t have enough probiotics, it can in turn lead to malnutrition.
Improves immune system
To look at the basics about what happens when we get sick, it’s because bad bacteria latches onto cells in our bodies, which then triggers our white blood cells, which leads to inflammation, and so on. But if there’s nothing for the bad bacteria to latch onto, then we (simply put) won’t get sick. So how probiotics – which we now know are also bacteria – boost our immune system, is by latching onto the cells before the bad bacteria has a chance, leaving no space over. With the majority of the probiotics living in our guts, this is the connection between our stomach and immune system.
Strengthens the barriers of the gut
The probiotics not only stimulates our immune system, but the mucus secretion in our guts as well. If we have proper mucus secretion in our guts, it will line our intestines and protect them from toxins in the food that we eat, which will drastically reduce the inflammation and irritation in our bowels.
When and How to take probiotics
Preliminary research shows that almost 70% of our immune system is in our microbiome, which is another word for the probiotic colony in our bodies. When this colony is functioning well everything is fine, but once it gets thrown off balance for different reasons (medication such as antibiotica, alcohol, stress, poor sleep, disease), we become more susceptible to harmful bacteria, and need to add probiotics back to it to make it function normally again.
This can be done in two ways: either refill through foods or supplements. If you want to go for foods rich in probiotics, then fermented dishes such as kimchi, yoghurt and sauerkraut are excellent choices. Keep in mind, however, that not all fermented foods are “probiotics”, they need to have sufficient amounts of the living bacteria to be considered that.
If you instead opt for taking dietary supplements, then there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing which product to use. Always check the CFU, which stands for Colony Forming Unit. For it to be worthwhile, the CFU should be no lower than 5 billion. Next, check which bacteria strains are in the probiotics. Don’t go for products with only the Lactobacillus acidophilus strain, as that one is the cheapest and might actually conquer out other healthy gut bacteria if over consumed. Lastly, if you are suffering from certain ailments or critically ill, it will be wise to consult your doctor before you start taking probiotics.
How long does it take for probiotics to work
Probiotics are not an instant fix, they need to take root and grow before they can really get to work. This happens faster if you mind your diet and consume more fiber rich food and make sure to get enough sleep, as the microbiome follows the circadian rhythm. It also depends on whether you chose to reestablish your gut flora through a changed diet, or through dietary supplements. One can say that it generally takes 60 days to restore the microbiome through food, and around 30 days if that is combined with supplements.
That being said, there are some people who have reported instant improvement when taking probiotics, so while we are in this for the long run, you might encounter the benefits sooner than expected.
Different types of probiotics
Probiotic supplements usually come in three different forms: capsules, sachets, or as liquid. Each has their benefits, so it’s up to you to choose what you feel suits your lifestyle best.
When it comes to probiotics as capsules, their main benefit is that they are easy and convenient to use. You can carry it with you almost anywhere, and all it requires is a mouthful of water to use. The downside to capsules is that you can’t be certain of whether or not the live bacteria in them are truly still alive, or if they will survive the trip all the way down through your stomach and into your intestines. If the capsules have been microencapsulated, then they should be fine, otherwise there’s a big risk of the bacteria getting digested up by your stomach acids. Also try to go for the freeze dried probiotic capsules, as they are much more likely to keep the shelf life going.
When it comes to liquid probiotics, their main benefit is absorption — which start as soon as they enter your mouth. It is believed that the body absorbs liquids faster and better than pills, as it doesn’t need to break it down, and it finds its way into your bloodstream even as it’s on its way down to your intestines. It might also have a better chance at surviving the stomach acids that have pH levels between 1.5 and 3.5, if the probiotics is like our Fermented Hemp Drink, and has a matching pH level of 3, ensuring that the live bacteria cultures are already thriving in a sour environment. Furthermore, seeing as how bacteria already likes wet and moist environments, having it in the liquid form increases the odds that the bacteria in it isn’t dead.
The downside of the liquid probiotics, is that it might be hard to carry with you. They often come in bigger bottles, and might need to be refrigerated after the seal has been broken. Taste might also be an issue, and while there are probiotics with added flavour, one can speculate about how beneficial that is for the body.
All in all, we advise you to be alert when choosing probiotics that fit your lifestyle, make sure that it is worth your money by looking through the ingredients of different bacteria strains, how much CFU it has, and how it’s been packaged and stored. We wish you luck!