It’s hard to ignore all the headlines these days around probiotics and gut health. Thanks to recent technological advances, scientists are beginning to understand the important role the bacteria in our gut play in overall health and wellness. From the obvious “regularity” support, to immune and metabolism support, having the right balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is important for our health. While scientists are still trying to uncover what that ideal balance looks like, factors such as age, genetics, diet, environment and lifestyle all appear to influence our gut environment. You can’t control your age or genetics, but there are many simple diet and lifestyle choices you can make to help your gut and body stay on track.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit. Basically, they are the “good bacteria” that can be found in certain foods and supplements that can help support health in various ways. The health benefits they may confer are specific to the strain.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha or tempeh as well as probiotic-containing products designed to supplement the diet. Most probiotic strains cannot withstand heat, but GanedenBC30, has a protective shell that allows it to survive the heating process and stay dormant until reaching the digestive tract. thinkThin® Protein & Probiotic Hot Oatmeal is a game changer, bringing live probiotics to hot oatmeal.
To help support digestion, you should go beyond probiotics and try to eat ~25-30 grams of fiber daily. This can be achieved by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like oatmeal) and nuts. Plus, fiber from whole foods supports satiety to help keep you feeling full.
While both animal and plant protein sources can help you meet your daily protein needs, try swapping out some of your animal sources of protein with plant sources of protein such as nuts, legumes, and soy. These foods are high in complex carbohydrates that can help good bacteria thrive. The quality of a protein is partly determined by its amino acid profile. One reason to look for soy protein is because it has a “complete” amino acid profile and contains all of the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities necessary for your dietary needs.
Of course, keeping your body and belly healthy goes beyond probiotics, fiber and protein.
Everyone knows exercise is good for your heart and muscles, but did you know it is also good for your gut? Research shows that athletes and active adults appear to have more of the “good bacteria” in their gut compared to their sedentary counterparts. Aim for 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Fluids help aid in digestion. Plus, most people sweat more in the summer months and need to consume more fluids to help stay hydrated. Yes, drinking water is one way to hydrate, but you can also get fluids from foods with high water content, like fruits, smoothies and soups (try gazpacho for a summer soup).