Hope you’ve all had a great week. I’m here with a Question of the Week. I’ve been out of the habit of answering these lately, but not intentionally: they’re actually some of my favorite blog posts to write!

This question comes from Jeanette. Recently, she wrote an email saying,

Hi Gena, I love your blog! I’ve read so much about probiotics lately. Do you recommend taking them? Is there a brand you like

Great question, Jeanette! My answer is yes, depending on your circumstances and health situation. If you suffer from IBS or are pronte to getting colds and other seasonal bugs easily, it may be a very wise idea (of course, chat with your health care provider about whether or not probiotics, or any supplement, is right for you).

There’s enough buzz around probiotics lately that I don’t have to define the basics for you: these are the microorganisms that have a healthy effect on our bodies (usually via our digestive tract). Taken properly, probiotics can help to combat bacteria, yeast, and other invaders which are likely to weaken and impair our digestion. Consequently, they can help to heal gas, bloating, constipation, candida (yeast), IBS, colitis, and even deeper conditions, such as high cholesterol and impaired immunity. Gut flora balance has even been implicated in weight management.

There are a ton of probiotics on the market right now. If you suffer from IBS, constipation, or bloating (which seems to be the most common reason that people seek out a probiotic supplement), I recommend an acidophilus and bifidus blend. You also want to seek out a probiotic that is enteric coated (this means it’s coated thickly enough to withstand passage through one’s stomach acid; unfortunately, most probiotics do not have enteric coating).

It can be challenging to find a vegan probiotic; some brands use milk in the manufacturing process, or have gelatin-derived capsules, or use bee products. It is not impossible, however, to find a vegan-friendly formula. Garden of Life RAW makes a dairy, casein, gelatin, and bee product free probiotic, as does Renew Life. And the MegaFoods MegaFlora formula is also dairy, gelatin, casein, and bee product free.

I also highly recommend getting comfortable with cultured foods as a means of boosting your gut flora. You can check out my tutorial on lacto-fermented veggies to get started. Other fermented foods that can help you to obtain probiotics include coconut water kefir, kimchee, and kombucha.

Hope this is helpful!

G xo