Probiotic supplements can have many functions. Diversifying the gut microbial landscape is a big one, Gandhi says, which helps to maintain balance in the gut microbiome.*
While promoting gut health is one obvious benefit, research has also shown certain strains of probiotics can help reduce bloat, aid proper nutrient absorption, promote regularity, and support a healthy weight.*
As for probiotic foods, “Ideally we should always be eating probiotic-rich, fermented food daily,” Gandhi says, “but even more so if you are not taking a supplement.” These foods introduce multiple new strains of good bacteria to the gut, diversifying the microbiome, she explains.
One way to get gut-friendly benefits, while also extending the life span of seasonal produce, is to preserve vegetables. “Making and eating traditional foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, natto, kombucha, and beet kvass is a delicious and fun way to optimize your gut health and strengthen immunity,” registered dietitian Ella Davar, RD, CDN, says.
As a general rule of thumb, Davar recommends getting probiotics from a variety of sources. “Those who don’t have time for cooking, or don’t like the taste of probiotic-rich foods, might greatly benefit from the supplement,” she explains.*