Your tummy can be a delicate place that’s always searching for balance. From day to day you might throw a variety of food types its way, from spicy to sweet, and that can tax its abilities to digest properly and help you feel your best.
Of course, the stomach has a bunch of built-in tools to help it do its work. One of them that you might have heard of is called probiotics. Probiotics are good-for-you bacteria that live in the stomach and are also present in other foods such as yogurt. There are lots and lots of types of probiotics, and if you’re going to purchase something that claims to have them as an ingredient, there are some things you should know first.
For example, it is possible to match the bacteria you need with the probiotic that’s available. You should also make sure yours doesn’t have any unnecessary ingredients. This graphic offers more ideas:
So, why should we care so much about our gut health?
As a migraine patient, I’ve been slowly venturing into accepting that food is medicine. Everything I put into my body should have intention and should make me truly feel good. However, when we start looking towards ways we can eat better, we run into diets left and right.
Claims of Keto healing someone or the promise that going vegan will be the long awaited answer to your health issues plague the internet and headlines. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that being healthy only can come with avoidance. This isn’t the case, and often times our health can improve when we begin focusing on what needs to be added in to our diets.
What stands out most to me regarding probiotics as the first addition we should be making in our diets has to do with gut health. I’m one of the estimated 25-45 million people in America who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
After spending months trying to understand what my pain was in my stomach, and why it would come and go month to month, I finally landed on the diagnosis of IBS. This last month, while bouncing between doctors and striving to simply regulate my system, food proved to be my best line of defense. I focused on which foods made me feel better, which foods triggered pain or prevented things from moving, and which foods had little impact.
The largest change I made was starting my day off with granola over fruit and yogurt rather than eggs and half a bagel with cream cheese. This has provided a tremendous amount of relief for me, and a lot of it stems from eliminating a processed food, adding in raw fruits, foods that promote the health of my digestive tract, and granola that is high in fiber.
Adding in more anti-inflammatory and cooling foods to start my day is huge, however the next step comes with changing my yogurt.
Yogurt as a source of added Probiotics
Yogurt in and of itself is incredibly healthy and aids in digestion. I tend to enjoy unsweetened yogurts.
The best yogurts are unsweetened, regular (non-light) versions, that are low-fat. Now, when looking to use yogurt to truly enhance our gut health, we need one that has “live active cultures” on the label.
A few of the top Yogurt brands that contain probiotics include:
- Siggi’s Icelandic Yogurt
- Skyr Yogurts
- Fage Total Greek Yogurt
- Brown Cow Whole Milk Yogurt
- Dannon Activia Yogurt
- Wallaby Organic Greek Yogurt
When it comes to truly choosing a yogurt, it’s going to come down to taste and how we feel after trying it out.
Our bodies are truly unique and we each have very specific bacteria that live in our gut, therefore some sources of probiotics won’t have any impact while others can make a dramatic difference.
Where Else Can I Get Probiotics?
There’s a variety of ways to add this into our diet, but most commonly people either choose to add in probiotics with their foods or as a supplement.
According to VeryWell Magazine, Culturelle Daily Probiotic and Align Daily Immune Support were the top probiotic supplements.
When it comes to food there’s a wide variety of sources including: Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Yogurt, Raw Cheese, Apple Cider Vinegar, Miso, and raw milks or buttermilks.
How does gut health relate to migraines?
There has always existed a direct connection between our gut and our migraine pain. As children we experience abdominal migraines that turn into other types of migraines as we age. Although the scientific connection hasn’t been demonstrated, any migraine patient is aware of the connection. Gut related disorders tend to be co-morbid conditions as well.
When it comes to migraines, the most common symptoms are typically nausea, vomitting, dizziness, and change in appetite/taste. The basis of conditions like migraine and IBS have to do with inflammation. When we experience regular migraines, we over sensitize our nervous system, and as a result remain overly sensitized even when we aren’t experiencing a migraine attack. This over sensitization connects to the rest of our bodies systems, and if we can work to regulate those systems while also reducing the inflammation in our bodies, many of our pains can be greatly reduced.
Healing my migraines won’t come from a single source.
Digging to the root of my pain, and adding to my diet in a way that promotes food as medicine helps create a well-rounded preventative treatment for migraines.
Currently, I’m focusing on increasing anti-inflammatory foods while also working to regulate my gut and increase the healthy bacteria in my system. This all plays in with my existing medical treatments, my new neuro-stimulation device, and exercising mindfulness and self-awareness.
This article has been sponsored by Northwest Pharmacy to help promote the education of gut health and choosing the proper probiotic for your health needs. Check out their health magazine, Health Perch to read more on their recommendations for what to look for prior to purchasing a probiotic.