This is why you should be taking probiotics, according to a Naturopath

Probiotic is the word on everybody’s lips lately, but does anyone actually know what they are, and why we should be taking them?. We speak to Huckleberry‘s head naturopath, Kim Wessels, to understand more about the health trend of the moment.

How can probiotics benefit our health?
Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria and yeasts that help to improve the microflora in the intestinal tract, where around 80-90% of our immune system lies. It’s needed there because the intestinal tract is an open-ended tube that is exposed to the outside world – probiotics help to support and balance the microbes that are already present.

What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible foods or plant fibres that act as a food for probiotics as well as your own beneficial bacteria. This creates a synergistic relationship where both are needed to promote a good balance of intestinal bacteria.

How can we get more probiotics?
Alongside supplements, foods that have gone through some amount of fermentation or ageing like yoghurt, raw unpasteurised soft cheeses, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, tempeh, kimchi, natto, and sugar-free pickled foods all contain probiotics. Kombucha is also a fermented beverage, however, it’s important to consume in moderation as this food relies on added sugar to keep the bacteria active during fermentation and can still be present in the end product.

Can probiotics have side effects?
Some people can experience gas and loosened bowel motions when first starting a course of probiotics as some unwanted bacteria start to die off. This is your body starting to establish a balance. If you experience stomach pain or worsening of symptoms then stop and seek advice from a natural health practitioner before continuing.

Are different probiotics suited to different types of people? If so, how do you find the most suitable variation?
Every year new research is increasing our knowledge and understanding of various probiotic strains being beneficial for different health issues. It’s quite a science, and manufacturers are now labelling their products more specifically to help us. There is a wide range of probiotics available so it’s best to seek practitioner support when choosing the best one for you.

How often should we consume probiotics?
Read the label of your preferred product first, but in general dosing is usually between 1-2 capsules per day unless prescribed by a practitioner. Some people take a probiotic on an ongoing basis depending on their health status. If you’re not sure what you need have a chat with one of our experienced Naturopath’s at Huckleberry.

Are different probiotics suited to different types of people? If so, how do you find the most suitable variation?
Every year new research is increasing our understanding of various probiotic strains being beneficial for different health issues. It’s quite a science and manufacturers are now labelling their products more specifically to helps us. As there is a wide range of probiotics available it’s best to seek practitioner support when choosing the best one for you.

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