If you’ve been reading health blogs or visiting your doctor, you know to fear the word “inflammation.” We now know that inflammation is a root cause of many of the modern world’s most lethal chronic conditions, from heart disease to cancer. Uncontrolled inflammation stresses you out, messes with your mood, makes it harder to absorb nutrients, and can lead to chronic pain. But did you know that an imbalanced gut is one of the major causes of inflammation?

Our digestive system contains a lot of bacteria, many of which are good for us. They are the main source of our immune system support. They fight off bad bacteria and prevent major diseases. These good bacteria are called probiotics. If we don’t have enough, our bodies can become imbalanced, leading to oxidative stress, indigestion, and inflammation.

Read on to learn 4 reasons why you should use probiotics (and how to get them).


1.   Digestive Balance

The bacteria in your gut are in a state of balance when you’re healthy. But illness, bad diet choices, and antibiotics can throw it out of whack. The result? Anything from indigestion to full-blown mental disorders can result from having an imbalanced gut for a long time.

You should consider taking probiotics to keep your “flora,” as it’s called, in balance.


2.   Heart Health

Probiotics actually maintain your heart’s health as part of this balancing act. They’ve been known to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, making your body calmer as a result.

If you have out-of-control LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” kind), consider taking more probiotics as a precaution.


3.   Diarrhea Treatment

Diarrhea is inconvenient, demeaning, and even painful. It disrupts your eating schedule and makes you feel a constant, low-grade level of sick. Often, diarrhea can be caused by antibiotics because of how they kill off the good bacteria in your digestive system.

If you’re taking antibiotics now or have in the past, you should consider supplementing with a steady stream of probiotics to keep your systems in balance and prevent or treat diarrhea.


4.   Mental Health

As I mentioned, an imbalanced gut can contribute to decreases in mental health. This works both ways. You can potentially improve the symptoms of mental health conditions by supplementing with probiotics. These conditions include depression, autism, anxiety, OCD, and even memory problems.

By decreasing inflammation and balancing hormones, probiotics show great promise in the management of chronic mental health conditions.


How to Take Probiotics

Probiotics can be taken as a supplement in pill form that you have to keep refrigerated. On the bottle, they will list the number of cultures and the types of bacteria present. It’s best to get a variety of types and to make sure it says “live and active cultures” on the bottle.

However, many people prefer to take probiotics through food. I find that this is a more natural way to get your supply and easier to keep up throughout the year. Yogurt is the best and most readily available source of probiotics out there. You may have also seen Kefir at the grocery store without realizing that it’s a milk drink that contains probiotic cultures.

Other healthy choices include cottage cheese, kombucha, and anything fermented like pickles and sauerkraut.

The important thing is to get a variety of probiotics and to eat them often. I try to add yogurt and cottage cheese to my daily eating schedule as healthy breakfast and lunch choices. Not only does it help me maintain my weight, but it evens out my mood and digestion in the long run too.


The Takeaway

Probiotics occur naturally in our digestive system or “gut.” However, many things can reduce the number of good bacteria in that environment and throw us out of balance. This affects our digestion, mood, and inflammation levels.

Replacing these bacteria after a treatment of antibiotics is essential. For the rest of us, regularly consuming yogurt, cottage cheese, and other probiotic-rich foods can keep our systems in balance and help maintain equilibrium.

I notice a change when I fall behind on my probiotics diet. Especially if you feel stressed, your body needs that boost. Don’t let the fact that they’re “bacteria” ward you off. After all, the name probiotic literally means, “fit for life.”