The Science of Motivation

About Probiotics and a Healthy Gut

It’s vital to have a healthy gut that is teeming with good bacteria, and this can be accomplished with a diet that includes a lot of veggies and healthy fiber. A healthy gut is balanced and has a huge impact on your physical and mental well-being.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to health, particularly your digestive system. These bacteria and yeasts are often called often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they assist gut health. They accomplish this by lining your digestive tract and supporting your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight-off nasty infections. 

The good news is that probiotics can be increased through diet and supplementation. Some foods are probiotic-rich, while others help to feed the probiotics in your gut.

There are foods you can easily find in a grocery store that are probiotic-rich. Some that you can include on your next grocery list are:

Kefir/Yogurt. Find plant-based versions like soy or coconut yogurt and kefir to get the benefits without the problems often associated with dairy. Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk beverage, with a lot in common with yogurt, but it is a drink, with a tart, sour taste, and can be a little fizzy. You can find it in the yogurt section of many grocery stores.  

Sauerkraut and Vegetable Ferments. Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine. It’s a side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables using napa cabbage and Korean radishes.

Water Kefir and Kombucha. Both can be purchased in bottles.

Miso. It’s the fermented beans and rice that make miso magic as a healthy and delicious condiment and adding a tablespoon to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup.

While the probiotics in food form are best for your gut health, they are available in supplement form. Quality supplements can be pricey, but if you want to take them, they are available. There are five things you need to consider when buying a probiotic supplement:

  1. High CFU count — Purchase a probiotic brand that has a higher number of probiotics, from 15 billion to 100 billion.
  2. Strain diversity — Search for a probiotic supplement that has 10–30 different strains.
  3. Survivability — Look for strains like bacillus coagulans, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and other cultures or formulas that ensure probiotics make it to the gut and are able to colonize.
  4. Research — Do your homework and look for brands that have strains that support your specific needs.

It's critical that you know the following about probiotic supplements:
Stability: Probiotics need to be kept cold in order to preserve their potency. This applies to their production, transport, storage, and sales.
Date: The fresher the better – remember, we’re talking about living organisms.
Living vs. dead: “Live and active cultures” is a better bet than “made with active cultures.”
Potency: Most probiotic products don’t list the amount of bacteria their products contain. Health benefits can occur with 50 million CFUs for certain conditions and may take as many as 1 trillion CFU for others. A good rule is “The higher the number the better.” 

Now you know what probiotics are, that they are beneficial and support good gut health and that you can increase them in your gut through diet and supplements.