You’ve probably seen the commercials in which a slim, attractive woman enjoys a container of yogurt.
But what is it that is in yogurt that is beneficial, and what does this have to do with losing weight?
The answer: Probiotics
These nutrients play an important role in your weight loss journey and are often missed by health and fitness professionals.
What are Probiotics?
So, just what are probiotics?
It’s the term that refers to the microbes or good bacteria that live in your gut, keeping your digestion working properly.
Keeping your digestion working properly has a multitude of benefits not the least of which is mental health.
Check out this video that explains exactly how probiotics can help you.
As I just mentioned, your intestinal tract is full of beneficial bacteria. It’s important to have the right balance of good to bad bacteria, and probiotics can help with this.
If you’ve ever taken antibiotics, chances are your good bacteria levels are greatly reduced.
Before we get started… If you’re interested in learning about more supplements that can help you lose weight, check out this video by our friends at The Health Nerd, on the 8 Supplements for Weight Loss:
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Now to get back to our probiotics talk!
Antibiotics will kill not just the bad bugs but the good ones as well.
That is why many doctors recommend taking a probiotic supplement (or yogurt) during or after taking antibiotics to bring the good guys back to the proper balance.
Don’t like to take pills? You can also get probiotics from fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and more.
If, however, you think your gut needs serious help, it’s recommended to take a good supplement for a while. Supplements contain far more probiotics than most fermented foods, and can get your bacteria back in balance much faster.
Common Types of Probiotics
There are dozens of different strains of bacteria in different probiotic supplements. According to Dr Perlmutter, there are just a few that are really beneficial for most people.
What he recommends, as well as many others, are bacteria from the lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidum bacterium families.
These are available in abundance in yogurt, kefir, and naturally fermented sauerkraut to name a few.
It’s wise to eat a variety of fermented foods to ensure you’re getting all the different strains you need. But if you don’t like yogurt, adding a separate supplement is your best bet.
What are Prebiotics?
As if just learning about good bacteria wasn’t enough, did you know that you need to make sure those friendly gut bugs get fed? It’s all well and good to eat yogurt by the bucket, but you have to provide the right environment for them to survive.
While the probiotics are essential for proper gut health, they need to eat, too! That’s where prebiotics come in.
The cool part is that adding prebiotics to your diet is super easy.
They are more commonly known as non-digestible fiber, and foods such as bananas, garlic, jicama, and onions contain small amounts.
Your body may be unable to digest this type of fiber, but it’s a different story for the bacteria in your intestinal tract. Your good bacteria will break down the fiber and use the nutrients to thrive.
So make sure you are eating a variety of fresh fruits and crunchy vegetables, and you probably don’t need additional supplementation. If not, consider adding a good quality prebiotic supplement from a reputable source.
How it Can Help with your Weight Loss Goals
The weight loss benefits of probiotics are more about your mental health as well as physical. If you are calm and happy, it’s easier to keep yourself on track with your diet.
You see, weight loss is not just a matter of controlling your food intake. It’s a matter of a stable mental outlook. The balance of your gut flora directly affects your mental health, which in turn affects how you lose weight.
An easily overlooked part of weight loss is keeping your body running smoothly, not just dropping pounds.
Another issue that crops up is that if you’re not feeling well due to ill health, you’re less inclined to eat the right foods. We tend to turn to less healthful foods when we feel sick.
Probiotics and prebiotics can help with this by balancing your gut flora. A happy intestinal tract is the foundation of health, which in turn, can help you keep you on track with your diet.
An important benefit of probiotics living in your gut is that you’re actually getting all the nutrients from your food.
As the friendly bacteria live off the prebiotics, they convert nutrients into more bio-available forms.
Not getting enough nutrients can be problematic when dieting, since you are already eating less food than you normally would. Less food means less nutrients, so being able to absorb a higher proportion of what you do ingest is a very good thing!
Probiotics have also been linked to both decreased hunger signals and fat storage. While it certainly isn’t a miracle drug, it can make a difference in your weight loss goals.
What to Look for When Purchasing
If you’re not a fan of apple cider vinegar or other fermented foods, consider adding a probiotic supplement to your routine.
Here are a few things to look for when you’re in the vitamin aisle at the grocery store or shopping online.
Not every bottle or foil pack of probiotics is equal. At a minimum, you want to look for acidophilus and bifidum bacteria when reading the label.
The quantity of bacterial strains is just as important as the variety. You want to find one with at least 1 million CFUs (or colony forming units).
But what if you just finished taking an antibiotic? During and after times of illness temporarily taking as many as 10 billion CFUs can be helpful in this situation.
But don’t overdo it. Problems such as bloating and gas can develop, which can be very uncomfortable.
Make Sure There is Proper Packaging
While you don’t need to purchase only refrigerated probiotics, make sure the packaging is well sealed. It’s also essential that the packaging is dark to protect from light damage.
On the bottle should also be an expiration date. If you don’t find one, look for a different supplement that does carry one.
Our favorite brand is Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics by Essential Formulas. They were originally recommended to us by a nutritionist, and we’ve been using them for years.
Maintaining Gut Health for Healthy Weight Loss
Keeping your body healthy is one of the many reasons you might have chosen to lose weight. Adding probiotics (and ensuring you have enough prebiotics) is the natural choice to assist with that…
Don’t forget the importance of what you’re eating!!!
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Leave us a comment below if you enjoyed this article or have any questions!
Alex & Lauren
The Avocadu Crew
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