Your body’s functions are fueled by the food you eat. So, maintaining digestive health is an important factor in getting the nutrients you need. Because your digestive system is responsible for breaking down and absorbing all the nutrients from the food and supplements you consume.
Digestion is a multi-step process. It begins in your mouth and ends when wastes are eliminated.
Your gastrointestinal (GI) system is central to the process. It hosts trillions of bacteria—also known as microflora. Your body and its microflora adapted to form a mutually beneficial relationship. The bacteria help your digestive process function properly. The bacteria flourish because they feed on the by-products of digestion. This is why—out of your whole body—the highest amount of bacteria is found in your gut microbiome.
Bacteria serve many purposes in the digestion and metabolism process, including:
- Supporting the activity of enzymes that break down fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols into useable forms.
- Producing some nutrients—bacteria in the gut make vitamin K, biotin, and more.
- Helping to remove toxins and wastes from the body through the normal passage of stool through the colon.
There are thousands of different species of bacteria in your digestive tract. They can be both beneficial or potentially harmful. Maintaining the right balance of the right bacteria for you is the key.
A number of things can upset the stability of your intestinal environment, including the following:
- Occasional stress
- Poor diet and hydration
- Lack of rest or changes in sleep patterns
- Travel and exposure to new microbes
The normal aging process also impacts the stability of your gut microbiome. Older adults may have differences in their gut caused by changes in their nutritional status and lifestyle.
To keep everything working smoothly, it is vital that you drink plenty of water; exercise; and consume a proper diet that includes plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition to eating a healthful diet, you can also add a probiotic supplement to support a healthy balance.*
What does a probiotic supplement do? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines probiotics as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” That’s a predictably stuffy way for an official agency to say that a probiotic supplement will help replenish beneficial bacteria to help keep you healthy.*