Since gut health and the microbiome are so important (improving brain function, supporting immune health, and boosting happiness levels9, for example) probiotics have become a trendy dietary supplement.
According to Dr. Joshua Axe, probiotics are essential for “producing vitamin B12, butyrate and vitamin K2, crowding out bad bacteria, yeast and fungi, creating enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria,” and absorbing nutrients and promoting a healthy digestion, among others.
These “friendly bacteria” can be found in fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or other fermented vegetables, along with fermented dairy and alternative fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefir, and cheese. Not slugging back a kombucha or eating sauerkraut on the regular, however, may be a good reason to supplement with a probiotic pill.
Those who may have recently taken antibiotics (which kill both bad and good bugs indiscriminately), or those who are routinely stressed or eat a Standard American Diet may also benefit from supplementing with a probiotic.
When choosing a supplement, look for freeze dried or refrigerated bottle with a high CFU count (around 15 billion to 100 billion organisms) and with strain diversity – at least 10-30 different bacterial strains. Dr. Axe notes to look for strains like bacillus coagulans, saccharomyces boulardii, bacillus subtilis, and lactobacillus rhamnosus. These are hardier strains of bacteria, which means they survive digestion and can therefore colonize your gut to keep it healthy.