Q: I eat a well-balanced, healthy diet - do I still need to take probiotics?
Probiotics have been shown to support the growth and diversity of the bacterial flora within the gut. Bacteria within the gut have a significant effect on all aspects of health including modulating immune function, and supporting cognitive health and metabolic functions. A healthy diet helps to support the balance of gut flora as a diverse intake of different foods, especially plant-based wholefoods, provide a variety of fibres which support the diversity of the gut flora and is conducive to good health. However, very few foods actually contain healthy live bacteria.
Many things can affect the balance of the gut flora including the use of medications (particularly antibiotics), stress, ageing, alcohol consumption, inflammation and poor sleep, thereby influencing general wellness. Imbalances of the gut microbiome are associated with digestive issues, allergies, intolerances, eczema and chronic inflammatory conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, dementia, obesity and autoimmunity), therefore supporting gut flora is essential for health as well as protection against chronic conditions.
You obtain live bacteria by adding fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi to your diet, however few people include these on a regular basis. Therefore, it is good practice to take probiotics every so often to support the balance of your gut bacteria. If you are in good health, it can be useful to supplement with one pot for about a month every three to six months.
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