When I hear the word “bacteria,” I immediately want to do something hygienic, like wash my hands or brush my teeth. In general, that b-word has a bad reputation and incites feelings of illness or dirtiness. But, not all bacteria is bad, and the best way to fight bad bacteria is actually with...good bacteria.
What is a probiotic?
Probiotics refer to the beneficial bacteria or yeast in your body. Probiotics help fight off bad bacteria that can make you feel sick or uneasy to ultimately align your microbial balance and make you feel better. Probiotics are part of a larger picture of the bacterial roadmap in your body, which is called the microbiome. Microbiomes are made up of microbes, and we have trillions of different microbes within our bodies. These microbes are a combination of bacteria, fungi (including yeast), viruses and protozoa. Unlike our skeleton, every person has a unique microbiome and therefore a different makeup of microbes. Every microbiome is different, just like a snowflake!
Can we please get back to probiotics?
Okay, hold up. You thought we were talking about probiotics, not our complex buildup of microbes, right? Well, probiotics are microbes, but to be considered a microbe it has to have a few distinct characteristics. Probiotics must be isolated from a human, have been eaten and manage to survive within your intestine after aforementioned eating, benefit the human (you), and be safely consumed.
Once the probiotic is successfully and safely ingested, probiotics live in several locations within your body, such as your gut, mouth, vagina, urinary tract, skin and lungs. The most common probiotic host is your gut, specifically your large intestine. The bacteria or yeast in probiotics live in these locations because these parts of your body have contact with the outside world.
So why all the probiotics hype? I feel like everyone is either taking them or talking about taking them these days.
The story of bacteria in your body is a classic tale of good versus evil, and probiotics is your microbiome’s knight in shining armor. The primary function of probiotics are to help your body balance the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. When there’s too much bad bacteria in your body, your body is out of balance and you feel sick. Good bacteria keeps your body in neutral, supports proper immune function and works to suppress inflammation. Probiotics do this through helping your body to digest food, creating vitamins, supporting cells that stop bad bacteria from food or drinks from entering your blood and by breaking down medicine to assist in its absorption.
There are a few different things you can do to keep your probiotics working. Eating a well balanced diet rich in fiber helps keep your probiotics at a proper level. Fermented foods and drinks also increase the amount of good microbes in your body such as yogurt, buttermilk, sourdough bread, cottage cheese, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso soup, pickles, kombucha or kefir. Look for food labels that advertise “live and active cultures,” as this is a telltale sign of probiotics.
Vaginal Health Probiotic
This daily supplement promotes vaginal health by including 'good bacteria' that can disrupt the growth of bacteria and yeast related to bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, reduce bloating, and improve digestion.… See product details »
You can also take supplements, and supplements come in many different forms such as foods, drinks, capsules/pills, powders or liquids. Before stocking up on supplements, be sure but discuss this with your healthcare provider before you make any sudden changes in your diet.
Most of these supplements are focused on your gut health and enhancing the wellness of your gut microbiome. But here at Stix, we care about all of you, and this includes your reproductive health and with that, your vaginal microbiome. Like your gut, a variety of microbes live in your vagina and an imbalance of yeast or bacteria can cause certain irritating infections. Two of these are vaginal yeast infections, an imbalance of the yeast candida, or bacterial vaginosis, which is associated with the overgrowth of bacteria.
For those who are afflicted with chronic yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, some small laboratory studies that suggest probiotic supplements could enhance the vaginal microbiome’s ability to prevent those infections. Talk to your healthcare provider or OBGYN, and consider using Stix’s Vaginal Health Probiotic. It is a daily supplement targeted to support your vaginal microbiome and overall vaginal health.
Is there any reason to avoid probiotics?
Considering probiotic supplements are just providing extra of something that already exists within our bodies and can be found in food, there aren’t inherent risks to probiotics. Still, there are things to consider when adding in a supplement to your diet. For example, probiotic supplements could trigger an allergic reaction and can cause stomach irritation during the first few days of use. Those who have serious health problems or issues with their immune system may experience more negative side effects. Talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your diet, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or thinking about giving probiotic supplements to your child.