You guys know I’m into wellness with a healthy dose of moderation, but something I’ve been really adamant about since getting pregnant with Honor is taking probiotics. I’d heard about them being important for the last half decade or so, but in recent years they seem to be gaining a more mainstream popularity and public awareness. So, what exactly are probiotics, why are they good for you, and most importantly – why should you be very picky about the ones you take? I’m not a doctor so please make sure to always consult yours before trying any new supplements or diet routines, but read on for my research and personal experiences on the topic.
What Are They?
In short, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that have many health benefits despite sounding like scary organisms. Though ingesting bacteria on purpose may sound counterintuitive, probiotics are considered the ‘good’ kind that help balance the flora in your intestines, help to regulate your digestion, promote vaginal and urinary health, support immunity, plus many other benefits researchers are just starting to discover. In fact, some recent research shows that there may even be a connection between the gut and the brain, as there are many neurotransmitters produced in the gut, like serotonin. The term “gut feeling” really does mean something! With probiotics being extremely helpful in improving and maintaining gut health, they may in turn prove to be beneficial to your mental clarity, concentration, mood, and stress levels.
What To Look For
While in New York a few months ago, I spoke with renowned dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldenberg who taught me so much about probiotics for overall health but even for skin care. He opened my eyes to why you want to be selective with the probiotics you buy. For one, he insists that you should pick a trusted brand, and to make sure the product you’re taking is made of highest quality ingredients. With so many brands out there selling probiotics, it’s important to research, talk to doctors, and compare all the different strains. Your probiotic should have multiple strains, as there are many different kinds of bacteria that live in your gut. Also, it’s important to make sure that the count of bacterial colonies per serving is high. Since they have to travel through your digestive system, likely not all of the probiotics will “stick”, so higher counts are more likely to replace the bacteria we lose due to things like poor diet and antibiotics.
Some of the most important strains include L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. salivarius, B. breve, B. longum, B. bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, and others. But do your research! Some strains are better for recovering from antibiotics or digesting food, while others are better for urogenital health. You should look for probiotics containing high amounts of the strains that pertain the most to your personal needs so that they have the best chance for making a big difference in your health. When it comes to storing them, it often confuses people (including me) whether or not they have to be refrigerated. Many brands now make shelf-stable probiotics, while some still need to be refrigerated. As a rule of thumb, follow the directions on the bottle – if it needs to be refrigerated it will say so on the label, so make sure to check when you purchase them (I like to bring the shelf stable ones with me when I travel). Another thing to look out for? If you’re vegetarian or have any gluten sensitivities, make sure to check the ingredients label for what the capsules themselves are made out of, as they can sometimes be made out of materials you may not want to ingest.
Another great way to ingest probiotics is through food and drink items. Things like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchee, and sauerkraut contain high levels of healthy bacteria that are produced through the fermentation process. While these items are a great way to introduce some probiotics into your system, they should still be supplemented with probiotic supplements which contain higher and more potent amounts of the strains you may need.
Probiotics & Skincare
So how exactly does this relate to skincare? According to Dr. Goldenberg, gut health is very important to skin health. In a sense, it’s a way to help your skin from the inside out. Some research suggests that consistently taking probiotics can even improve skin conditions like acne and rosacea. And according to some dermatologists, probiotics applied topically can work similarly to how they do in your gut, balancing the delicate microbiome on your skin and clearing your complexion. It’s a brand new field, but the research is promising.
Do you guys take probiotics? What brand is your favorite? Tell me below!