While we think of bacteria as invisible villains, your body is actually teeming with bacteria heroes.
The gut bacteria what scientists call as gut microbiota that live in your gastrointestinal tract are magical creatures. They help:
- Break down and digest food.
- Communicate with your immune system.
- Keep inflammation at bay.
Gut bacteria: The BFFs you never knew you had
“In human intestines, there are many strains of two main species of friendly bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium,” Dr. Cresci says. Probiotics and prebiotics both help those friendly bacteria, but in different ways:
These are live microorganisms isolated from humans and then cultured in a lab to be used as a supplement. When we ingest them (whether in food or supplement form), they survive in the gut and provide benefits to us like the good bacteria that we naturally have.
This is a food source for the friendly bacteria in your intestinal tract. Our digestive system can’t break down prebiotics, so they survive the journey through the digestive tract. They eventually reach the part of the colon where the friendly bacteria hang out. The bacteria have the chops to break down the prebiotics into nutrition that helps them grow and thrive.
Gut check — Do you have enough friendly gut bacteria?
In a healthy state, you can trust your gut to do all the right things for you. Since you already have a good composition of friendly bacteria, you won’t need pre- or probiotics.
Are probiotics the key to a well-stocked gut micro biota?
Whether your diet is out of whack or you live with a chronic disease, a probiotic supplement has the potential to help restore your gut to optimum health. There are supplements commercially available that deliver both Lactobacillus and Bifid bacterium, as well as other probiotic species.
Since probiotic supplements can be hard on your wallet, we recommend to you other ways to build your gut army, such as eating fermented foods like:
- Yogurt that contains added Lactobacillus and Bifid bacterium strains.
- Kombucha, a fermented tea.
- Tempeh, fermented soybeans.
- Sauerkraut, fermented cabbage.