With a new year upon us, many of us are brainstorming new, healthy habits to add to our wellness regimen. And when it comes to supporting gut health, probiotics are front and center.
Getting a daily serving of beneficial bacteria—whether it be from yogurt, fermented foods, or a probiotic supplement—can support digestive health and a healthy gut. But beyond that, how much do we really know about these good bacteria and how they work to support our health?
If your answer is "not that much" you're not alone. We looked into it for you! Here are six helpful, research-backed probiotic facts that will help us all get the most out of these beneficial bacteria:
1. Probiotics need to be alive when you take them.
The word probiotic itself refers to "live bacteria" that have shown health benefits for humans. Many probiotics that you find in capsules are freeze-dried (1) but are definitely still alive!
2. Probiotics are not a wellness fad or trend.
The idea of health-promoting live micro-organisms has been around for over a century (2). Probiotics were traditionally digested in different foods and were often used for food preservation.
3. We have about 100 trillion bacteria living in and on our bodies.
And there can be as many as 1,000 strains (3) in and on a single person at any given moment. Even crazier? Each person's microbiome is unique.
4. Not all probiotics are the same.
5. Probiotics can support immune health.
Did you know that 70 percent (6) of your immune system is found in your digestive tract? It's true, and it's another reason to believe in the power of food and the connection between what we eat and how we feel.
6. Our microbiomes play an important role in supporting overall health.
Our microbiome is not only confined to our gut or apparently, even our bodies. The bacteria surrounding us every day plays an important role in supporting our health (7).