Probiotic benefits go way beyond your gut

No conversation about nutrition would be complete without a look at the benefits of probiotics. Because as most everyone knows by now, these tiny bugs deliver some pretty big benefits.


A rich and diverse microbiome is the hallmark of a healthy gut. And yes, trouble-free digestion is one key feature. But it might surprise you to learn how many other perks a probiotic-packed diet can bring.


In fact, the latest research continues to show that good bacteria may hold the key to your entire body’s lasting health…


There’s more to your gut than meets the eye


Your gut facilitates your ability to absorb and process critical nutrients, for starters. But it’s responsible for a whole lot more than simple digestion.


Your gut is also home to a whopping 80 percent of your body’s immune cells—as well as being a key source of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which help to keep your mood and your brain balanced. So needless to say, when your microbiome is out of whack, your health can suffer in more ways than one.


Digestive issues like gas, bloating, constipation, or irritable bowels may be the most obvious symptoms. But microbiome imbalances also pave the way to inflammation… and all the issues that come with it.


Believe it or not, studies have established links between the gut’s bacterial population and a whole host of chronic conditions—including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and even cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  


How to feed your microbiome


Yes, yogurt is a popular probiotic choice. (We recommend plain Greek yogurt.) But there are a lot of other great ways to pack your diet with friendly flora.


Sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables are rich sources of beneficial bacteria, for example. Fermented soy products like miso and tempeh are also rich in both probiotics and protein. And beverages like kombucha—an effervescent fermented tea drink—deliver a hearty dose of probiotics, too. (Just be sure to stick with low-sugar varieties.)


But those good bacteria also need proper nourishment to thrive. And that’s where prebiotics come into play.


Prebiotics are rich in fibers like pectin, beta-glucan, and inulin, which provide food for probiotics. Top picks include artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, jicama, seaweed, and avocado. And you should eat them in abundance, as long as your gut agrees. (Prebiotic foods are also high in FODMAPs—fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—a class of carbohydrates that some people have trouble digesting.)


But of course, your diet is only one way to nourish your microbiome. High-quality probiotic supplements are also widely available—and you can’t go wrong including one in your daily regimen.     


Until next time,


The XY Wellness Team