Ask Denise: Should I Be Taking A Probiotic?

Denise Austin by Denise Austin | July 7, 2015 | Lifestyle

Hi Everyone!

The beauty of digital is how we can immediately connect with each other! My members have been posting such great Ask Denise questions in the Community Forum, and I find them all so inspiring! I love being able to help all of you live happier and healthier lives. Keep the questions coming and I promise to do my best to answer as many of them as I can each week. member Rachael has asked me to write a blog post about the benefits of probiotics. Such a great question, Rachael, thanks for asking!

We all hear about probiotics from health magazines to cartons of Greek yogurt in the grocery store, yet many of us still aren’t quite sure what it really is. The word probiotic means “for life” or “promoting life.” While it sounds good, you still may wonder: are probiotics just another New Age gimmick, or is there some science behind the health benefits?

Probiotics are live bacteria that naturally occur in certain foods—from fermented vegetables, such as pickles, sauerkraut or kimchi, to live-cultured yogurt, miso soup and even dark chocolate (yay!). Some countries, such as Japan and Mexico, have been incorporating the use of probiotics into the daily lives for nearly a century, but probiotic effects have only really started getting attention here in the US in just the last 15 years or so.

My doctor, Sam Pappas, is a big believer in probiotics for gut health so I take a probiotic supplement each day. Current probiotic research suggests that live-active cultures of these friendly bacteria can help to prevent and treat a wide variety of ailments. Probiotics are said to maintain the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria in your gut that is necessary for optimal health. So for those people who suffer from digestive issues, probiotics may be a natural aid in helping to soothe upset tummies. But probiotics may help with a great deal more that just the digestive system – some studies suggest that probiotics may be helpful in warding off infection and boosting the immune system, as well as helping to improve women’s health and perhaps even fighting obesity!

While this data is still being collected, incorporating probiotics into your diet can be a healthy choice. You can take a daily supplement like I do, or if you do decide to add probiotics into your meal planning, just be careful of how you go about it. A lot of the yogurts and different drinks that have active live cultures are also packed with sugar, so just make sure you’re not packing in extra calories. Choose a yogurt or a keifer yogurt drink with natural ingredients and be sure the label says “Contains Live, Active Cultures.”

And if you do have digestive issues, always check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet plans and ask their option on probiotics as it applies specifically to you.

Want an easy & yummy way to add a probiotic into your day? Here’s one of my favorite breakfasts from my plan—my Fruity Yogurt Parfait—that incorporates protein-packed yogurt and almonds with your favorite fruit and some high-fiber whole grain cereal, and if you pick a yogurt that includes probiotics, even better. Here’s the way I put it together:

Fruity Yogurt Parfait
Serves 1

Creamy Greek yogurt (remember to choose one with live, active cultures!) and whole grain cereal are combined together with nuts, chia seeds and fresh fruit.

1 (6 ounce) container plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (or soy yogurt for dairy-free version)
1/2 cup berries (fresh or frozen, thawed; or substitute 1/2 cup any preferred fruit)
1/3 cup healthy, whole-grain cereal (look for one with more than 3 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams sugar; use gluten-free cereal if following a gluten-free diet)
1 Tbsp. chopped almonds (or any preferred nut)
2 tsp. chia seeds (or ground flaxseed)

Layer the ingredients into a dish or tall glass and enjoy!

Want more recipes? Become a member of my website! Monthly members have full access to all my recipes and workouts AND you can participate in my amazing Community Forum. Or sign up for my 10-week, 360 Plan and each day I will feed you recipes and workouts and get you into the best shape of your life. Here’s the difference between the two plans:

Have a great week!

Love always from Your Personal Trainer,


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