A movement toward more holistic living has brought with it a shift; largely in the way people eat. That shift toward healthier eating has brought with it a desire to improve gut health and return it to a more alkaline state.
When the gut flora is out of balance, it can cause digestive issues, stomach pain, bloating, food allergies, and indigestion. Often, the way to restore balance to the gut is to eliminate certain foods and beverages such as gluten, refined sugars, high-fat proteins, alcohol, and caffeine. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, cultured vegetables, and yogurt are often used as a way to restore the gut to its optimal health; probiotic supplements are also commonly used when restoring gut health. Now, prebiotics are adding themselves to the conversation.
Telling the two apart
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in your gut. In order for the GI tract to stay in balance, the body must maintain a certain amount of those healthy bacteria. Optimal gut health assists with optimal health overall. When the GI tract is in balance, proper nutrients are absorbed and digestion is on-point.
Prebiotics are the food the healthy bacteria, or probiotics, feed upon. They are a type of fiber that lives in the colon and is only digestible by the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Since prebiotics exist only in the colon, they work with the short-chain fatty acids that also exist there to help maintain the colon’s lining. This helps to prevent viruses and bacteria, as well as other harmful substances, from entering the gut. It also helps to lessen inflammation and can even work to ward off cancer.
Bacillus subtillis: The Ideal Probiotic
Bacillus subtillis is a spore forming probiotic that can form highly resistant cells which then protect themselves in unfavorable conditions. In terms of gut health, this is ideal because it offers more benefits than probiotics containing non-spore forming microorganisms for a number of reasons.
Bacillus subtillis is particularly beneficial because it:
- Does not need to be refrigerated since it can sustain itself in a wider temperature range than non-spore forming bacteria strains.
- Supports immune function, especially in the intestines.
- Maintains healthy gut flora by essentially boxing out bacteria.
- Works to maintain the lining of the colon.
- Has the ability to repopulate and multiply in the GI tract.
The Bacillus subtilis probiotic strain is an excellent complement to prebiotics, which is great when striving to get the digestive system in proper working order. Best of all, perhaps, is that the Bacillus subtilis strain can be found in both supplement form, as well as in many of the foods you eat.
The Best Probiotic Foods to Achieve Your Best Gut Health
Below is a short-list of foods that are great for boosting gut health.
Kimchi is a flavorful Korean side dish with cabbage as its base. It is then loaded with spices like ginger, salt, red pepper flakes, and another good-bacteria, gut-health-enhancer: garlic.
Yogurt is perhaps the most common food consumed with the goal of getting the digestive tract on track. Loaded with healthy bacteria, yogurt that contains live or active cultures can work to ease symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and enhance bone health.
Kefir is a bacteria-laden grain that is added to cow or goat’s milk and then fermented. It is an ideal probiotic source, even over yogurt, in terms of improving gut health, aiding in digestion, and preventing infection.
Kombucha is a popular fizzy beverage made of tea that’s been fermented with a SCOBY, a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.” Kombucha is loaded with probiotics and not only works on improving digestive health, but works to improve mental and heart health, as well.
Cabbage acquires healthy bacteria when it undergoes the fermentation process on its way to becoming sauerkraut. It is loaded with good fiber and Vitamin K, which, in addition to small-chain fatty acids, is essential in maintaining a strong colon lining.
Another bone health booster that’s packed with good bacteria is tempeh, a fermented soybean product popular among vegans and vegetarians. In order to make tempeh, it is injected with live mold as a fermentation starter and the result is a tasty and versatile product that also works to alleviate symptoms of menopause, reduce the risk of cancer, and improve digestive health.
What to Look for in a Probiotic Supplement
Inf addition to fermented foods aren’t available to you, there are a vast number of probiotic supplements currently available on the market.
But how do you know which one to choose?
First and foremost, you don’t ever want to take a probiotic supplement if you suffer from a weakened immune system. Consult your doctor before taking a probiotic and be sure to ask them which one they think would be the right supplement for you. Your doctor will be able to tell you the appropriate dosage, as well as the right amount of colony forming units (CFUs) for you and your health goals.
As mentioned previously, a probiotic containing the Bacillus subtilis microorganism makes for an excellent probiotic supplement choice, especially when the supplement also contains Bifidobacterium, as well as Lactobacillus. Always read the label, looking out, not only for the type of healthy bacteria contained therein, but any additives you may be allergic to, as well as how the probiotic should be stored.
Whether you’re taking in probiotics via a supplement or fermented foods like yogurt, tempeh, kombucha, or sauerkraut, increasing the amount of healthy bacteria into your diet now will only serve to improve your digestive, as well as your overall health, in the long run.
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