YogurtThere’s lots of talk about probiotics lately: health professionals say a healthy gut is the first step in having a healthy body and probiotics contain health-promoting bacteria that keep your gut in check. And these bacteria are more important than you may think. They:

  • Process fiber that is hard to digest
  • Produce B12, K2
  • Help your body absorb calcium, iron and magnesium
  • Keep bowel function regular
  • Fight off E. coli and Salmonella

Therefore, these probiotics can help treat and prevent some illnesses by ensuring that your gut bacteria don’t become depleted from poor diet, antibiotics, stress or sickness.

There are many questions surrounding whether probiotics are necessary. Get the answers to the most common questions surrounding this topic so you can decide how probiotics fit into your life.

Does everyone need probiotics?


Probiotics are especially important for people with Crohn’s disease, IBS, diarrhea and a variety of other gastrointestinal issues. However, the healthy bacteria in your gut can become depleted with poor diet (weekend binge, anyone?), stress or sickness, all of which we all deal with frequently. So the answer is yes, everyone can benefit from probiotics.


How much should I take?


In general, you need to ingest 1 to 10 billion colony-forming units several times per week. This translates to one or two supplement capsules a few times a week, according to Harvard.edu. If you’re suffering from an infection or diarrhea from antibiotics, you need a daily supplement for one to two weeks to feel relief.


Do I need supplements or can I eat my probiotics?


If you’d prefer to avoid supplements, stock up on probiotic-rich foods to keep your gut healthy. Add these foods to your grocery list:

  • Greek yogurt, plain
  • Miso soup
  • Kombucha
  • Tempeh
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut

Make these a mainstay in your diet for probiotic benefits without the supplements.

Quick and Important Facts

  • Always eat live probiotics. “The microorganisms in probiotic supplements need to be alive when you take them (or when they’re freeze-dried for capsules). They may die on exposure to heat, moisture, or air. Some require refrigeration,” according to Harvard.edu.
  • Not all probiotics are created equal. “A high caliber probiotic formula will contain 10 superior and viable strains which are nondairy, high potency, acid and bile resistant (survives stomach acid), stable at room temperature for two years, fortified with prebiotics, and packed in vegetable capsules or also available in a straight powder form,” according to Bo Wagner. That’s not all; make sure it contains DDS-1 culture, which is scientifically proven to be effective.