What are probiotics, and why do you need probiotics?
Not to be confused with prebiotic (which are the dietary fibers that feed friendly bacteria already in the gut), Probiotics are microorganisms that provide health benefits when we consume them. Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain friendly bacteria that help to colonize our gut health with health-boosting microorganisms.Understand theTerms: Probiotics, Prebiotics, Postbiotics
Gut health is no joke and is one of the single most important things you can do to maintain optimal health. You’ve likely heard it before, everything starts in the gut, so optimal gut health should be a priority for everyone.
There lies a complex community of microorganisms in your gut called the gut flora and your gut contains hundreds of different types of microorganisms, with some numbers as high as 1000. This includes bacteria, yeasts and viruses. The larger majority is bacteria. Most of the gut flora is found in the colon, or large intestine, the last part of the digestive tract.
The gut flora performs many functions that are important for health. It manufactures vitamins, including vitamin K and some of the B vitamins. Additionally, gut flora turns fibers into short-chain fats like butyrate, propionate and acetate, which feed the gut wall and perform many important metabolic functions.
Microorganisms also stimulate the immune system and regulate the integrity of the gut preventing unwanted substances from "leaking" into the body. The gut flora is highly sensitive to modern insults, and studies show that an "unbalanced" gut flora is linked to numerous diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's, depression and the list goes on.
Probiotics (and prebiotic fibers) can help correct this balance, making sure that our gut is working optimally.