With the holidays in full force, many of us are non stop (ok maybe it’s just me) thinking about how we can properly digest all the food we’re shoveling into our faces. We all want to indulge in our holiday favorite recipes but not feel the heaviness and fluffiness in our midsections post meal.
When it comes to keeping our gut in check during times of eating foods we wouldn’t normally consume, probiotics are in the spotlight.
During the holiday season I always make sure I’m taking a daily probiotic which will give me a super dose of good bacteria for my gut. I typically make sure that my diet is rich in probiotic foods but when I feel like I’m eating guilty pleasures every other day, I add a probiotic supplement to the mix.
The problem is that a lot of us start taking probiotics without *really* knowing how we benefit from them other than it simply helps our gut. So I’m rounding up easily digestible (ha get it) ways that probiotics work within our body so that you know exactly how it helps us. Andddd then hopefully you’ll get more excited about digestion and gut health like me!
So first let’s break down our gut quickly: You may have heard that our gut houses bacteria/micro-organisms, and lot’s of em! Researchers estimate that our intestines house between 30 to up to 100 trillion micro-organisms – HOLY moly!
These little microbes are completely unique to each person. Meaning not one person’s gut is the same! That is why we all react differently to everything we consume, because of our uniqueness.
The craziest thing is that they communicate with our body and are involved with so many different processes. Research shows that our gut microbiota are involved with defense against pathogens, can act as a barrier for our intestines, assist with nutrient assimilation, producing neurotransmitters in our brain, and even sleep regulation and mood!
When it comes to probiotics, the live microorganisms that deliver a host of health benefits, different strains have different purposes. They can protect our tummies from harmful germs, they can help our immune function, and they can also prevent us from having stomach aches and digestive troubles.
There are many different food sources that you can get your probiotics from, especially fermented foods. The only issue is with food is that the amount of probiotics is not enough when we are experiencing a significant lack of healthy gut flora (sometimes from antibiotic use or other medication). The great thing about commercial probiotic supplements is that they are fully capable of journeying through our acidic stomach environment to make its way to our large intestine.
These 8 Ways Are How Probiotics Help Our Gut During The Holiday Season
- Keeping unhealthy bacteria in check: The healthy bacteria in our gut, including the help of probiotic bacteria, helps keep out pathogens by riling up our natural antimicrobial functions. This is also why so many people turn to probiotics while taking antibiotics, as antibiotics kill all bacteria (good and bad) in our gut. The key is to take probiotics before and after your antiobiotic use so that they can actually get the job done.
- Producing health boosting nutrients: probiotics help us create short chain fatty acids that help us create energy, defend against germy invaders, and help protect us against gastroinstestinal problems down the road.
- They may help you better absorb nutrients: This is crucial as some of us may experience difficulties absorbing vitamins and minerals we consume from food.
- Help alleviate bloating, gas, and other digestive distress issues: When your digestion is all out of whack, adding a probiotic to the mix can help alleviate uncomfortable feelings like gas and irritation due to loading up on lots of unhealthy holiday foods.
Beyond The Gut Probiotic benefits:
Boosting our immunity – Since 70 percent of our immunity is located in our digestive system, everything we consume and eat has an effect on not only our digestion (obviously), but our mood and immune system as well. Adding probiotics to balance our gut flora may also mean we are having a stronger line of defense against germs!
Regulates our mood – This study shows how eating a diet rich in probiotics can help lower social anxiety. Many experts also comment on how our brain has a close connection to our gut, and the two organs communicate with each other which is why when you feel anxious, you may get an upset stomach and vise versa.
Keeps skin beautiful – Many of us also know that when you eat something super sugary or carby (like a croissant or a cupcake), a big old pimple pops up on your face. What we consume definitely reflects in our complexion, and by keeping probiotics in our diet, we can calm irritations that show up in our skin like eczema and acne.
In order to keep these flourished to optimize digestion (which is absolutely crucial during the holiday season), you need to make sure that you aren’t just popping probiotics randomly – there are ways that you can maximize your probiotic so that it can work for you!
You want to make sure that you are taking your probiotic with food as when you take it right before or after you eat, you are reducing the acid levels in your stomach (by adding food as a cushion to help the probiotic navigate its way through). To take it a step further, it can be beneficial to eat food rich in nutrients like fiber and prebiotics so that the probiotic can use these nutrients as extra fuel to make its way to your large intestines.
So next time you’re running errands, add probiotics to your list so that you can help yourself feel better while you’re enjoying this indulgent season. Happy Holidays!