From coughs to colds and digestive issues to skin complaints, ailments and illnesses are an unwelcome part of life that many of us would rather avoid. And, as the global pandemic continues, it has never felt more important to take care of our health.
When it comes to maintaining optimal health, the key is to ensure that your immune system is well supported, as this is vital to ensuring your body stays strong and is well equipped to fight off viruses and bad bacteria. Many people underestimate the role of gut health in this, but an increasing number of scientific studies have linked microbiome imbalances with a range of different illnesses – the effects of many of which reach far beyond the digestive system alone.
Due to poor diet choices and unhealthy lifestyles, a large percentage of the population are thought to be dealing with imbalances between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacterias in the gut, and over recent years, a growing number of dieticians and nutritionists have been recommending that clients take a daily probiotic supplement in order to keep things in check.
If you’re considering adding a probiotic supplement to your own routine, then ensuring that you get your hands on the best quality probiotic supplements is vital, as not all of them are created equal. Here, we take a look at just why probiotics have fast become the must-have supplement for any health-conscious regime, and highlight some of the best varieties currently available on the market.
What are probiotics?
Our bodies naturally have a large amount of bacteria floating around inside of them, but not all of them are bad. In fact, many of these bacteria are integral to keeping the digestive and immune function in healthy working order – but where more dangerous varieties begin to outnumber the good, certain health issues and ailments can begin to arise due to the imbalance.
Taking probiotics can help to restore more of the good bacteria in your gut, making it easier for your body to fight off the less savoury varieties and restore natural balance within the body. Such supplements contain the various different strains that are naturally produced by the body and so can go a long way towards helping you to maintain optimal health.
Probiotics have long been seen as a go-to treatment and preventative when it comes to gastrointestinal health, but scientists are now beginning to understand that a balanced microbiome has a far more fundamental role to play in the body’s overall health. Bacterial imbalances have been linked to everything from skin issues to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, so it’s clear that its effects are much further reaching than we first thought.
Making the right choice
A bacterial imbalance within the gut can be caused by numerous different factors, including stress, medical problems, or even taking antibiotics – which are designed to fight bad bacteria during illness, but that take much of the good bacteria down with them. It’s for this reason that many nutritionists recommend taking a probiotic supplement directly after finishing a course of antibiotics, as many people tend to suffer digestive issues and a depleted immune system as a result of the treatment.
On the most basic level, restoring probiotic bacteria can help to ease conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections and abdominal pain – but also a plethora of different health ailments we’re only now beginning to understand.
Supplements that include a wide variety of probiotic strains are the best way to boost gut microflora. Those that contain the highest numbers of lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and have been shown to be beneficial to the body.
If you’re considering adding probiotics to your daily routine then opt for one that contains at least 1 billion CFU for best results.
Getting started with probiotics: what you need to know
Finding the right probiotic to meet your needs can be very much a case of trial and error. You might need to try a few different varieties – and since the effects are cumulative rather than instantaneous, patience is essential. If a supplement doesn’t help straight away, then give it some time – two to three months is recommended if you’re looking to see some real results.
Be aware that you may notice a difference in your toilet patterns, with gas and or bloating of the stomach commonly reported side effects in the first few weeks of treatment.
If your body is immune-compromised then it’s vital to seek your doctor’s advice before beginning on any new supplement.
Our top 3 picks
Elm and Rye Daily Probiotic
This powerful probiotic is made from sustainably sourced, pure ingredients and is free from soy, dairly, gluten, GMOs and preservatives. Containing high levels of the powerful Lactobacillus Acidophilus strain, it’s the perfect pick for any first timer looking to boost their gut microflora and overall health.
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic Capsules
Renew Life contains 18 billion CFUs and when taken regularly, can help to restore stool regularity, providing balance to the digestive system and a noticeable improvement to the immune system.
Garden of Life RAW Probiotics Women
Packed with 33 different strains and 85 billion CFUs, this highly effective supplement contains an all-natural prebiotic fibre blend.