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Exploring the World of Probiotics: Foods, Supplements, and Beyond

What you should know about probiotics, the supplements that boast them, and how to nourish a healthy gut.

By Erica F. Perusse, BS

Bowl of fiber and probiotic rich yogurt

Navigating the sea of conflicting advice on gut health can be overwhelming. Many supplement companies and influencers tout their pricey probiotic products as the sole solution for a happy gut. But as a team of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists, we are here to set the record straight: there is no need to break the bank with expensive pills, powders, or drinks. There are more affordable and realistic options available to get in enough probiotics for your health.

Let's start with the basics: gut health is crucial for our overall well-being. Research consistently shows its link to immunity and chronic disease prevention. And guess what? You can support your gut without draining your wallet. It all starts with what you put on your plate.

Quality matters. If a particular food triggers discomfort due to allergies or intolerances, ditch it. Instead, focus on variety. Load up on diverse fruits, veggies, and lean, high-quality proteins. Hydration is another significant key factor, too.

Now, let's talk about probiotics. These helpful bacteria support digestion and thrive in fermented goodies like yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut. Not a fan of these foods? No worries! A simple probiotic supplement, often featuring the common strain Lactobacillus, can do the trick. With so many probiotic options on the shelves, it can be overwhelming to choose. Navigating the "gut health" aisle without clear guidance is like trying to find your way through a maze, right? Some strains have extensive research backing their effectiveness, while others may not. Plus, probiotic supplements being classified as dietary supplements rather than drugs adds another layer of complexity to the mix.

Consequently, the FDA doesn't regulate their production. This lack of oversight raises doubts about the quality of probiotics in pharmacies and health food stores. In fact, some products may not even contain the probiotic strains listed on their labels.

Depending only on food for probiotics can be tricky. Unlike supplements, food labels don't always tell you how much probiotics you're getting. This means your probiotic intake might not be consistent. Supplements usually give you a set amount, but it's wise to talk to your doctor before adding them to your routine. Your lab results will provide you with a clear picture of your gut health.

But wait, there's more: prebiotics. These fibers, found in whole grains, fruits, and veggies, fuel probiotics while offering additional health benefits like cholesterol reduction and satiety. Aim for 25g of fiber daily for women and 35g for men. Think colorful meals and whole grains at every turn. These prebiotics feed the probiotics to help the microbiome flourish.

If you choose and benefit from other options, that is wonderful! Our intent in this blog is to put out the facts and let you know that there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on products if you don't need to. So, forget the pricey gimmicks. Opt for wholesome, balanced meals and simple over-the-counter supplements instead. Partnering with a Registered Dietitian can be instrumental in gaining a deeper understanding of gut health tailored to your individual needs. Your gut—and especially your wallet—will thank you.

Have questions like, "What probiotics should I be taking?" or "How can I get enough probiotics in without doing yogurt?" then The Nourished Membership is the place you should be! Get access to the Nourished with Emily Team every month to get your questions answered along with access to our huge recipe library, video education training library, monthly classes, and more! The membership gives you the TOOLS you need for success. Join The Nourished Membership today here!



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