By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Want to know how to have a healthy gut—and how this helps you have a healthy life? Learn all about how to improve gut health and have a balanced microbiome!
Thanks to Fortify™ Probiotics for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own, as always!
If you’re wanting to feel your best, a lot of that starts with your gut health. Read on to find out how focusing on your gut health can help you have a happier life.
What’s the Microbiome?
By now, you’ve probably seen this word everywhere and anywhere. If you’re confused, don’t feel bad. Many years ago, I was hugely confused about this topic until I sat in on a multi-day symposium on gut health and the microbiome—for back-to-back years!
I’m going to do my best to distill my multiple years of learning on this topic into a few paragraphs. As simply put as possible, the gut microbiome is the collective grouping of genetic material of all microbes that live on and inside of your body.
This includes bacteria as well as fungi, protozoa, and viruses, per the University of Washington. While these microbes are mostly invisible to the human eye, that doesn’t mean they aren't mighty. All told, your microbiome may weigh up to five pounds!
When your microbiome is in balance, every piece of it works in synergy. The bacteria in your gut help digest the food you eat and help keep your immune system functioning at its best. The bacteria even help produce certain vitamins, including vitamin B12 and vitamin K.
How a Healthy Gut Helps Your Health
Now that we’ve cleared the air about the microbiome, let’s talk about a few of the top reasonings why having a balanced microbiome—and a healthy digestive system—are important for your overall health and happiness.
When a baby is born and has an immature immune system, that infant is more susceptible to illness and infection. As the child grows and is exposed to more and more bacteria, their immune system grows stronger.
Coincidence? Not at all. This is also one of the reasons, it’s theorized, why children born via C-section—versus vaginal delivery—are significantly more likely to suffer from illnesses such as celiac disease and serious gastroenteritis, per research in Pediatrics. It’s also thought that risk of allergies and asthma may be associated with how you’re delivered into the world, per a study in Clinics in Perinatology.
Thus, you can imagine, that even past birth, being exposed to bacteria and other microbes can be a good thing—in moderation, of course. We know, too, that breastfeeding for the first few months of life was associated with a reduced relative risk of respiratory allergies and asthma in some 6-year-old children, according to research in Acta Paediatrica. This is likely because the baby is introduced to the mother’s immune system—and all the awesome, protective benefits that come with it.
The hygiene hypothesis also supports the theory that early exposure to certain animals may reduce the risk of allergies and asthma. In one study in Evidence Based Medicine, of more than 650,000 preschool- and school-aged children in Sweden, being exposed to a dog or a farm animal within the first year of life was associated with a lowered risk of asthma in children ages 3 and older. Now, isn’t that amazing?
What Can You Do to Have a Healthy Gut?
Of course, none of us can go back in time and ask our parents to deliver us differently, to breastfeed us, or to get us a childhood pet. What we can do to help ourselves to healthy gut bacteria: Take in foods and supplements offering prebiotics and probiotics.* Prebiotics—including plant-based foods such as green bananas, artichokes, and asparagus—act as food for probiotics. Prebiotic foods are usually high-fiber foods.
And certain probiotics are found in fermented foods. You can eat these probiotics via certain yogurt, unpasteurized sauerkraut, kombucha, and other fermented foods.
But here’s where I recommend that most people take a daily probiotic in supplement form to make sure you’re taking in ample amounts of good bacteria—and the right kind—to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.* Plus, you get targeted delivery with these supplements, as each capsule is resistant to the harmful effects of stomach acid and distributes live cultures to the proper area of the small intestine and colon—right where they're needed most.
What Types of Probiotics Can You Take?
When it comes to probiotic supplements, here are a few of my favorites to recommend for daily use:
Fortify™ Women’s 50 Billion Probiotic
Ladies, if you’re looking for an everyday probiotic to benefit your digestive, immune, and vaginal health, here’s the supplement for you.* Not only does this probiotic boast the doctor-preferred probiotic strain for regularity*††, you also get a guarantee of 50 billion active cultures per capsule. The probiotic strains include HOWARU® Bifidobacterium lactis HN019™, Bifidobacterium lactis BL-04®, HOWARU Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001™, and Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14®, which support digestive, immune, and women’s health.* Bonus: You get chicory root fiber in this formula, which act as a food source for good bacteria.
Fortify Daily 50 Billion Probiotic
If you’re looking for a digestive-health probiotic that can be used for both the guys and gals in your household, I’d recommend giving this supplement a try.* You get a powerful combination of HOWARU Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001(1) and Bifidobacterium lactis BL-04™ and HOWARU Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 to help support gut and immune health—and you get that bonus chicory root fiber, too.* Plus, it contains the doctor-preferred probiotic strain for regularity*††—the probiotic helps prevent occasional gas, bloating, and constipation.* Hooray for gut happiness!
Fortify Optima® Women’s 90 Billion Probiotic
Talk about a super-powered probiotic! This product is specially formulated for women’s health—and contains 90 billion live probiotic cultures per capsule.* The probiotic strains include Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, HOWARU Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and HOWARU Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04® and HOWARU Bifidobacterium lactis HN019. The supplement is especially beneficial for gut health, as well as immune and vaginal health.* It also contains plant-based prebiotics: blue agave inulin, chicory root, and gum acacia fiber. These act as food sources for good bacteria.*
Want Additional Probiotic Info?
Still wanting to learn more about probiotics? Good! Now, take a look at this additional content about probiotics:
- What’s a Probiotic?
- Probiotic FAQ: Answers to Your Digestive Health Questions
- Why Do Probiotic Strains Matter?
- Can You Take Multiple Probiotics?
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
††Based on an IQVIA ProVoice survey of Primary Care Physicians, HOWARU B. lactis HN019 is the Doctor preferred probiotic strain for Regularity as compared to other strains in leading Probiotic brands, 52-week sales MULO, ending 11/3/2019; December 2019.*
The probiotic strains contained in this product are manufactured by DuPont. HOWARU® is a registered trademark of DuPont.
- (1) Russo R, Edu A, De Seta F. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2018 Jul;298(1):139-145.
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