First, let us start by telling you this important trivia: 70 to 80 percent of our entire immune system is found in the digestive tract. Now, let us tell you why this it’s vital that you know this: nearly 70 million of Americans are plagued by digestive issues and diseases.

Does this tell you how critical it is that you keep your gut health at peak performance at all costs? If it still doesn’t have you convinced, then know that the gut is responsible for creating 95 percent of the serotonin in your brain, thereby having the capacity to affect your mood, brain function, and pretty much all the functions in your body.

Bacteria outnumber the body’s cells at a 10 to 1 ratio. If this scares you, there’s absolutely no need to worry because most bacteria in our body are harmless and actually contribute to making sure that all our systems function normally.

Let’s take a look at probiotics. It’s the “good” bacteria that your body needs, since it improves your digestion, aids in weight loss, boost your immune function, and reduces your risk of many diseases, including chronic fatigue, psoriasis, and thyroid issues.

READ: You Might Have Hashimoto’s Disease and Not Know It. Here Are The Symptoms To Watch Out For.

Probiotics line the digestive tract and boost your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, and fight infection. We tend to have the misconception that bacteria are germs that attack our immune system and weaken us, but in the case of probiotics, they’re actually vital to fighting infection.

probiotics

Bacteria (and probiotics) are part of the gut flora, together with viruses and yeasts. Sounds worrisome, but the majority of the gut flora is actually made up of bacteria (and good ones, at that).

The gut flora is located in the large intestine or the colon, and its metabolic activities actually function the same as the other vital organs in the body. Its function includes the manufacture of B vitamins, vitamin K, and turning fibers into short-chain fatty acids like acetate, butyrate, and propionate that nurture the gut function and perform metabolic functions in the body.

Probiotics bring balance to the gut flora when it becomes unbalanced. When this happens, health complications arise such as a high risk for Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer, depression, and type 2 diabetes.

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Common food sources for probiotics are kimchi, miso, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar. But since the evolution of agricultural practices and food preservation, the antibiotics used for food sanitation actually kill the natural probiotics present in foods. As a result, more and more people are turning to probiotic supplements.

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However, even if you do manage to take probiotic supplements and load up on probiotic-rich foods, it won’t do much if you don’t eliminate the things in your body that eliminate probiotics as soon as you take a pill or drink Yakult.

For example, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t overuse prescription antibiotics! Because antibiotics kill bacteria, too much of it can lead to eliminating even the good bacteria like probiotics.

It’s also important to not eat too much GMOs, processed foods, or sugars, and to avoid always drinking alcohol. Limit your exposure to toxins from the environment — both in your home and in your diet.

Instead, load up on organic foods and probiotic-rich foods, as well as ditching flavored drinks in favor of clean, distilled water. And of course, we’ll never forget to remind you to eat your fruits and vegetables!

READ: 8 Foods You Can Eat A Lot Of Without Gaining Weight

Most importantly, make sure you take glucomannan, or other types of soluble fiber to get your fill of prebiotics. Not to be confused with probiotics, though. You might know it as prebiotic fiber, and without it, probiotics wouldn’t be as effective.

Basically, prebiotics is fibers that are present in some fruits and vegetables and act as the food of probiotics. Prebiotics aren’t absorbed or digested in the upper GI tract and actually ferments in the gut flora, resulting in the growth of friendly bacteria, or probiotics.

Prebiotics on their own won’t be digested by the body, but as they pass through the flora, they interact and feed the good bacteria and merge. Foods that are rich in prebiotics are garlic, onion, leeks, bananas, and asparagus.

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