It can be very confusing (and frankly overwhelming) when faced with the plethora of options out there regarding “building a healthy gut.” How do you decide what products are right for you? Here are a few things to consider.
Pros of fermented foods such as kombucha, yogurt, kefir, etc.
- provide external digestion of your food – bacteria work on the sugars, thus lowering the glycemic index
- contain metabolic products of microbes, which are good for your digestive system and body as a whole
- can’t be cooked or canned (must be kept fresh and refrigerated)
- density of microbial population is unknown – even if it says it on the label
- watch for added salt and sugar (especially in yogurts); stick with plain, full fat yogurt/kefir or make your own with fruit at home
Pros of probiotic supplements
- easy to take – usually in tablet or capsule form – with a dosage
- labels can be misleading
- some contain contaminants
If there is a USP symbol on the label, that means it’s been tested by an outside company, so is more reliable.
Some things to remember
The probiotics you take are transient; they likely will not take up residence in your gut. However, they do impart health benefits to you as they are breaking down.
To feed the microbiota that are present in your gut, make sure to take in plenty of prebiotics and fiber. (see How to Feed Your Gut Microbiome)