Why These Are The Best Probiotics For Women
Probiotics for women is a hot topic at the moment in the health and fitness world. As more scientific research reveals how important gut health can be for your overall health and wellbeing, more women are beginning to show interest in improving their own gut health — and probiotics form a big part of this!
What are probiotics?
In order for your gastrointestinal (GI) tract to function effectively and to help you feel your best, your gut biome needs to contain a combination of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria — probiotics being a form of good bacteria. If an imbalance of bacteria exists, you may not feel your best and your body may offer a variety of signs indicating that your gut health is out of balance.
The gut microbiome is an ecosystem of organisms in our gut. Specifically, probiotics refer to live microorganisms (also known as live cultures) that are believed to improve your gut health, when they exist in adequate amounts. There are hundreds of species of ‘good’ bacteria that exist and which can potentially contribute to a healthy gut biome. This is because the good bacteria helps to balance the bad bacteria and creates an environment where your body may absorb nutrients more effectively. In turn, this can then help improve your overall health.
Benefits of probiotics
While the health benefits of probiotics are undergoing continuous research and are still not fully understood, potential benefits of taking probiotics may include:
- Probiotics may improve digestive function and absorption of nutrients and food.
- Probiotics may create more balanced conditions of 'good' and 'bad' bacteria within the gut biome.
- Probiotics may improve immune function.
Probiotics for women’s health
There are different types of probiotics for women that exist. While probiotic supplements can be purchased to help with gut health, the long-term effects of taking these supplements is still unknown. Some studies have suggested some people may be better suited to choosing food-based probiotics, rather than supplementation. In particular, probiotics supplements may impact individuals with compromised immune systems or infants.
If you want to try and improve your gut flora naturally, the best probiotics for women can come from eating a variety of probiotic-rich foods instead. In doing this, you will also gain the benefits of the vitamins and minerals that exist within the food that you are consuming!
Best probiotics for women — fermented food
Fermented foods are considered the best food-based probiotics for women — one of the great things about this kind of food is that it’s really easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Fermentation is a process where food is prepared in a specific way and this changes its taste, as well as increases the life of the food. This process involves breaking down the carbohydrates (such as sugar) in the food through bacteria and yeast. Through this metabolic process, various strains of probiotics are then created — the healthy live cultures that we have been discussing. These live cultures enhance and change the flavour of the food, as well as help to preserve it for longer.
Some of the most popular probiotic-rich natural foods include:
Live-cultured yoghurt is an excellent natural source of probiotics for women. Just be mindful when you read the label to make sure that your yoghurt contains the ingredient ‘live active cultures’. This is because some yoghurts can be heat-treated after fermentation, which means that the beneficial live cultures are killed off. Also, be sure to check that it doesn’t contain too many hidden nasties, like added sugars or additives, as this will limit the probiotics benefits.
You’ve probably heard everyone talking about kombucha lately! What exactly is it though? Kombucha is a type of fermented tea drink and its health benefits lie in the high amount of healthy gut bacteria it contains. When drunk, it can often taste like a soda drink. Due to its popularity, most grocery food stores now sell it, as well as health food stores. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try to make your own at home too!
The term Sauerkraut is German and refers to fermented cabbage – it is one of the oldest forms of preserving cabbage. You probably are most familiar with sauerkraut in German cuisine, like as a topping for German hot dogs! If you choose to purchase it, rather than make it yourself, be sure to purchase the unpasteurised kind, as quite often supermarket sauerkraut is pasteurised and this kills off the good probiotics that your body benefits from.
Kimchi is an Asian form of pickled vegetables — like sauerkraut, it’s also a fermented cabbage. However, kimchi tastes extremely spicy! If you like spicy foods, kimchi is a great source of natural probiotics — and can be easy to make at home.
Pickles can be a good source of probiotics for women — if they are made in a combination of salt and water. Try to avoid purchasing the store-bought kind, as many of these are made with vinegar and do not contain probiotics.
It is important to remember that even if you include a variety of natural probiotics into your diet, if you regularly consume unhealthy food that is high in saturated fat, sugar and starchy carbohydrates, your gut is less likely to be able to develop and sustain good bacteria. In order to reap the benefits of probiotic-rich foods, you need to maintain a diet rich in prebiotics — the dietary fibre compound found in plant-based foods. Prebiotic foods that are consumed act as a foundation for the good bacteria to grow in your gut. This is why it’s important to ensure that you include a combination of both probiotic AND prebiotic foods in your diet to help your gut flourish!
Probiotics for women
Just remember, if you are thinking of increasing your probiotic intake or changing your diet significantly, it is best to seek the advice of your healthcare practitioner. Every individual is different — in fact, a healthy balance of bacteria in one person will look totally different to a healthy system of another. If you listen to your body, you will eventually learn what suits you best — whether that be to consume natural probiotic-rich food, like the ones mentioned above, or manufactured probiotics for women.
We would love to hear from ladies in the SWEAT community who have tried fermenting their own food! Let us know how you went, as well as any tips you may have, in the comments below!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.