A couple of years ago my husband and I traveled to Ecuador. It’s a beautiful country with steep green valleys and snowcapped volcanoes. We visited the capital city Quito and the expat retirement haven  Cuenca on a 10-day itinerary. Cuenca has some of the cleanest water in the country so we didn’t worry about the water we drank.

Our vacation was magical and problem-free until we returned to the States. Only then did we get so sick that the antibiotics we had to take were worse than the virus. Eating anything was a depressing event because we were usually in the bathroom 15 minutes later. Medication like that can really affect the good bacteria in your body. Today, we cannot function without our daily probiotics.

Probiotics has become the new trend in healthy lifestyle advertising, but they’ve always been around. They are inside our gut, and in some of our foods like yogurt and fermented liquids like Kombucha. Sometimes we need more good bacteria than our body can produce. Probiotic supplements are also available in different forms such as caplets and gummies.

But what exactly ARE Probiotics?
How do they help us?
How do we know if we need more?

Webmd.com describes probiotics as live bacteria and yeasts that help the digestive system. They are considered the “good bacteria” that helps break down the proteins and fats and help with absorption of nutrients. Sometimes we eat things that “disagree” with us and can cause stomach pains and diarrhea. When this happens, we have an unbalanced gut and we aren’t getting the nutrients that we need. Eating yogurt, drinking Kombucha or adding probiotic supplements can help bring the good bacteria back into balance.

When I lived in the Dominican Republic, I noticed the people used more natural remedies when children were sick instead of medicines. Anytime a baby or young child had diarrhea, the parents automatically gave them yogurt. The yogurt there is more liquid than the thick stuff we are used to in the States. One day I had something “disagree” with me. I drank a half gallon of the liquid yogurt, and within hours I was fine.

In other countries you’ll find more yogurts with active cultures and yeasts. The next time you are at the store to buy yogurt, look for active cultures and yeasts in the ingredients.

These are the 3 most common probiotics and yeast you will find in products and supplements: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardi.

 

Interestingly, this has also worked on my dog. My dog also has an occasional bout with diarrhea when she eats stuff she is not supposed to. My vet recommended that I give her yogurt. She is not a fan of plain yogurt, but it works!  Just a note: I give her plain yogurt, not flavored.

Sometimes it’s easier just to give her my probiotic supplement in peanut butter, this way I know she gets it.

Having an upset stomach is no fun, but there are solutions to help you feel better. Consult your doctor (and/or veterinarian) to see if you need extra probiotics especially if you take any medications.

If you would like to see what my husband and I (and the dog) use for our probiotic supplement, click here.

Disclaimer:

I am not a doctor, just someone who finds nutrition and health fascinating! I read a lot and I have tried various products to find what works best for me. I share what has worked for me, but things I share may or may not work for you. Again, consult your doctor before trying or adding anything to your routine.

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