Hey there. Thanks for stopping by! Today’s post is about bacteria…the good kind, that is. I’m talking about probiotics – the healthy strains of bacteria found in your belly. They are extremely important to your overall health and well-being. Probiotics are found in many foods and can also be taken as a supplement. I thought I’d offer some of the benefits I have noticed from probiotics and share a delicious and easy way to get them in your diet (overnight oats!). Please remember, I am not a doctor and I would recommend speaking with your health professional before starting a new diet or supplement plan.
Importance of Probiotics
Your stomach contains tons of bacteria – some beneficial and some harmful. Your lifestyle, diet, and other factors, like stress and exercise, all impact the delicate balance of this bacteria. As you can imagine, healthy lifestyle habits promote good bacteria and negative factors (like smoking, stress, and poor diet) promote harmful bacteria. This harmful bacteria can lead to inflammation and may interfere with your body’s ability to think clearly (and positively), ward off illness, and recover from workouts.
One simple way to increase the amount of good bacteria in your stomach is by consuming probiotics – healthy strains of live bacteria. Probiotics are found in fermented foods (like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha) and in supplement form. We enjoy all kinds of fermented food in our house, but since I don’t eat them every day, I choose to supplement with a daily probiotic (the girls take a children’s probiotic, too!). I’ve noticed a positive difference from taking a daily probiotic supplement and adding fermented foods to my diet.
3 benefits of taking probiotics
1. Strengthens your immune system – A large portion of your immune system is found in your digestive track. Probiotics help promote good bacteria (your body’s first line of defense) and inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. Many of my friends and co-workers can attest that I rarely get sick (of course, being a parent means my kids share their illnesses with me quite often, but I’m rarely down and out for more than a few days). I’m sure one of the reasons I tend to stay healthy is because I regularly take my probiotic.
2. Aids digestion and nutrient absorption – This is probably the most widely known benefit of probiotics. Many people suffering from IBS or some other digestive disease may find relief from some symptoms by taking probiotics. Probiotics are especially important for anyone who regularly exercises since they assist with nutrient absorption and muscle repair. Because I have dealt with malabsorption and nutrient deficiency issues in the past, I take a probiotic so that I can be sure my nutrients are adequately being absorbed.
3. Regulates mood – Your stomach is often referred to as your “second brain” due to its ability to influence behavior and mood. The majority of the neurotransmitters that control mood and cognition are found in the stomach. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter known for regulating happiness and satisfaction, is created almost entirely in the stomach (source). An imbalance of bacteria in your stomach has been shown to impact your thoughts and behavior.
I take Proflora Excellence by the Poliquin Group and the girls take the chewable form (which tastes like cherry). We always keep our probiotics in the fridge to preserve their freshness.
Okay, so we know probiotics are good for us and we know we need to incorporate them into our diet. So here is one of my favorite overnight oats recipes, made with greek yogurt and almond milk. The vanilla and almond flavors blend really well together and create a sweet and tasty treat. It’s a great meal to start your day and a simple way to get some good probiotics into your diet.
Vanilla almond overnight oats
- 1/2 cup of gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt
- 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
- sliced almonds for garnish
- Combine everything (except the sliced almond) into a jar or bowl. Stir well.
- Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Will last for several days as long as it’s kept in the fridge.