Here’s a question I get asked all the time…
What’s the one best supplement for overall health?
It’s difficult to answer because there are so many good choices. In the end, I opted for something relatively new. But this supplement has strong science behind it showing it works.
Probiotics are all the rage right now in the natural health world. For good reason.
There are billions of microorganisms in your body. This ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa that live in your gut is called your microbiome. Some of these organisms are bad for you, but others are important for maintaining your health.
Probiotics are beneficial gut bacteria. They are an essential part of your microbiome.
Researchers used to think the gut microbiome affected only your digestive system. But we now know it is linked to everything from cognitive abilities to mood to diabetes.
Let’s take a look at the science…
- Inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to all the worst diseases…cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition looked at a group of older people. Researchers gave some a daily probiotic drink. The rest drank a placebo beverage. After four weeks, the probiotic users had less inflammation.
- Hay fever. Scientists from Griffith University and the Menzies Health Institute recruited 44 hay-fever sufferers. They gave them a daily probiotic supplement containing six bacterial strains. After eight weeks, 64% of the allergy patients felt better. Their sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, and coughing were less severe. And they were less likely to use medication.
- Depression. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada recruited 44 adults with mild to moderate anxiety or depression.Half of the participants took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum. The other half took a placebo.After six weeks, the participants underwent psychological evaluations and brain scans.The probiotic group was twice as likely as the placebo group to report fewer symptoms of depression. They also reported a significantly higher quality of life. Even after they stopped taking probiotics, the benefits persisted for another four weeks.
- Diabetes. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied 80 people with high blood pressure. They divided the subjects into two groups.Both groups went on the DASH diet, which is designed to lower blood pressure. But half the subjects swapped out items in the diet for probiotic foods.Both groups saw their blood pressure go down. But the probiotic group also had lower fasting blood sugar. The researchers think probiotic bacteria produce compounds that make it easier for cells to use insulin to convert sugar into energy.
- Memory. Researchers at University College Cork in Ireland had older men take a Bifidobacterium longum supplement for a month. This is bacterium included in many probiotic products. Afterward, the subjects performed better on memory tests compared to those who took a placebo. The probiotic users also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol can speed cognitive decline.
Foods that provide probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, green olives, kombucha tea, natto, and miso.
When choosing probiotic foods, it’s important to read the label carefully to make sure you’re getting a product that is unpasteurized and contains live cultures. You’ll also want to make sure it has no sugar added. Organic brands are best.
Taking a probiotic supplement is an easier way for most people to boost gut bacteria. Look for a supplement that contains at least six different probiotic strains and at least 10 billion CFUs per serving. This is a measure of potency.
The probiotics craze is one fad with a good reason for existing.