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Improve Your Immunity, Gut & Brain with Probiotics

  • Category: In The News
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  • Written By: Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC
Improve Your Immunity, Gut & Brain with Probiotics

Michelle Civello Hello bitmojiWith the Delta Variant of COVID-19 cases on the rise, supporting our immune system has never been more important. Build up your body’s defense against disease-causing bacteria and viruses by eating healthy, exercising, managing stress, and getting enough sleep –and don’t pass up your probiotics!

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are a combination of “good” bacteria/yeast and live cultures that are similar to those that naturally live in the human gut. These live organisms benefit your body by helping to maintain balance of good bacteria and decrease bad bacteria that can cause infection.

How Can Probiotics Keep Me Healthy?infographic about probiotic health benefits

Probiotics have been shown to secrete protective substances, which may in turn boost your immune system and prevent pathogens from causing you to get sick. Studies also suggest that probiotics can be used to treat conditions such as diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, lactose intolerance, eczema, and upper respiratory infections.

How Do Probiotics Support Brain and Gut Health?

Imagine that feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you are nervous, anxious or receive exciting news. Normally, we describe this as ‘butterflies’ in our tummies, but did you know that this feeling is actually your brain talking to your gut’s microbiota? Gut microbiota are the microorganisms that reside in your digestive tract. But, what does gut bacteria have to do with my brain, one may ask? The gut is known to contain what is called the ‘second brain’ (the enteric nervous system), so if our gut is healthy, then it contributes to the wellness of our brain function. Probiotics may even help reduce depression and anxiety, which can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.

How Can I Get the Probiotics I Need?

While taking a supplement form of probiotics can help increase your gut health, probiotics live in many different food products, such as yogurt, buttermilk, sourdough bread, cottage cheese, miso, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchee and soy products.

Probiotics supplements are just as effective. Supplements usually include a multitude of bacteria species that keep your system moving. It can be difficult to find the right probiotic that suits the needs of your gut, but with these tips, you can eliminate the ones that might not work for you:

  • Make sure the bacteria types are listed on the supplement bottle and observe the number of strains. The most common are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
  • Check that the label says that the bacteria are live.
  • Check for billions of colony forming units (CFUs).
What If I Am Taking Antibiotics?

When prescribing antibiotics to my patients, I always recommend they take a probiotic or eat yogurt on a daily basis because the job of an antibiotic is to kill bad bacteria, but they can also kill the good gut bacteria too. Eating probiotic-enriched foods or taking a supplement form helps restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.

As a primary care provider, I encourage a multifaceted approach to my patients for taking care of their immune systems, and sometimes that includes recommending a probiotic. If you are considering adding probiotics to your daily regime, a primary care provider can help. Call (985) 236-0526 or click here to request an appointment.