Probiotic supplements can serve many functions. According to Gandhi, diversifying the gut is a huge task that helps maintain or restore balance in the gut microbiome. *
"Probiotics create an environment that favors a healthy bowel with minimal inflammation," Davar adds. "When you have a damaged gut, probiotic supplements can help restore a healthy gut barrier." *
While supporting gut health is an obvious benefit, studies have also shown that changes in the microbiome, depending on exposure, can help with depression, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and more, says Gandhi.
Probiotic foods: "Ideally, we should always eat fermented foods rich in probiotics on a daily basis," says Gandhi, "but even more so if you are not taking any nutritional supplements." These foods introduce several new strains of good bacteria into the gut, optimize the GI tract, and diversify the microbiome, she explains. *
One way to get good-natured benefits while extending the life of seasonal produce is to preserve vegetables. "Making and eating traditional foods like sauerkraut, pickles, natto, kombucha, and beet kvass is a delicious and fun way to optimize your gut health and boost immunity," says registered nutritionist Ella Davar, R.D., CDN.
As a general rule of thumb, Davar recommends getting probiotics from a variety of sources. "Those who don't have time to cook or don't like the taste of foods rich in probiotic could benefit greatly from the supplement," she explains. *