Introduction to probiotics
Before we dive into the benefits of probiotics, let’s do a quick overview of what they actually are. Probiotics are living microorganisms known as “good” bacteria that support gut health, in addition to a whole host of other parts of your body and brain.
Bacteria get a bad rep, and the reason why is pretty obvious. Harmful bacteria are to blame for the common cold, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome—everything that makes you feel yucky. But not all bacteria are evil! There’s good and bad bacteria, and as you’ve probably guessed, probiotics are the good kind. We wouldn’t be out here singing the praises of probiotics if they were bad for you!
Probiotics come from hundreds of different bacterial strains. What’s more, you can find a billion of these bacteria in a single capsule or food product! We’re not exaggerating—there are literally billions of helpful bacteria in every dose. Personally, we like to grab one of our fav probiotic drinks because they transform bacteria into a tasty treat. A daily glass of “germ juice” is all you need to keep your gut feeling good.
There are so many species of good bacteria, scientists aren’t entirely sure which strains improve which ailments. Some studies have concluded that certain kinds can treat everything from diarrhea to weight management (more on that later). Probiotic supplements usually contain strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium because they’re the most common strains naturally found in your gut. But no matter which strains you take, you’re bound to get an overall boost in health.
One more thing—probiotics and prebiotics aren’t the same. The spellings are just one letter off, but their purposes in the digestive system are completely different. Probiotics are good bacteria that restore balance to your gut microbiome. Prebiotics, on the other hand, promote the growth and activity of these bacteria. You need both for a healthy gut, but for right now, probiotic health benefits get the spotlight.