Something that everyone especially women should take is a high quality probiotic. If you are unsure whether one is high quality or not there are a few clues to look for.
First of all, a good probiotic is always refrigerated even before opening. The bacteria are alive and need to be kept fresh in a refrigerated so I recommend buying from a store where they are sold refrigerated and not shipping from online unless they ship refrigerated .
The second thing to look for one with multiple strains, they create a stronger colony.
Third, look for one with about 10 billion active live cultures. Only a small percentage of what you take actually survives to reach your gut and colonize so the more the better! So even though 500 million may sound like a lot it really isn’t.
Probiotics consist of good bacteria and they help to replenish and fortify the good bacteria in your gut so that you do not have it overrun by bad bacteria. Besides aiding in digestion, a probiotic will help regulate bowel movements and can even give a healthier appearance to your skin! It can help to create a healthy pH environment and prevent the growth of bacteria or yeast, produce certain vitamins and fatty acids, and even metabolize old circulating hormones like estrogen that can build up in your body and cause problems. So now that you know the importance of probiotics and what kind to look for, you need to know when to take it.
You should take it during or after a meal. This is because the food in your stomach will dilute the acidity of your stomach and make it more likely for a larger percentage of the probiotics to survive. Also, keep in mind prebiotics. These do not need to be supplemented, but rather they can be found as components of different types of food, such as fructooligosaccharides from inulin – which can be found in many dietary fibers. Foods that include inulin are Jerusalem Artichokes, Chicory, Onions, Leeks, Garlic and Bananas. If you consume some of these food on a regular basis you should not worry about prebiotics, however if you do not regularly consume these types of foods then a probiotic fortified with a prebiotic might be for you.
Prebiotics work by nourishing the good bacteria in your gut to increase healthy gut flora. They are important because simply taking a probiotic will not do much good unless it can be fed by your diet. So inulin is a great probiotic food, but remember that the good bacteria has to keep the bad bacteria in check and bad bacteria feeds off of sugar and refined foods so your whole diet is actually pertinent to your gut health. I will discuss that in another post of GI health.