The New Generation of Probiotics
At this point, the question isn't "Are you taking probiotics?" Rather, it's "What kind of probiotic are you taking?" After all, the purported perks are too many to name (though this primer makes a good start). And no one wants to miss out on the huge benefits a balanced microbiome has to offer.
Recently, it's become easier than ever to get a healthy dose of healthy bacteria. More and more companies are hopping on the bug bandwagon, offering a wide array of probiotic-laced products that go way beyond the standard yogurt you're used to seeing. We're talking probiotics in juices and ice creams, pills boasting super-targeted strains that claim to cure whatever ails you—even personal care products laced with the stuff.
Full disclosure: The world of probiotics pills and fortified foods and drinks is still a largely unregulated industry, so it's a pretty gray area when it comes to efficacy. "I recommend fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as lots of indigestible plant fiber from green veggies to feed your microbes," says Robynne Chutkan, M.D., a gastroenterologist and author of The Microbiome Solution and The Bloat Cure.
But if you can't stand the tang of kimchi and you're falling short on your daily greens, trying out some of the new forms of probiotics on the market may help give your GI system—and beyond—a little lift.