ost of us don’t dwell on the bacteria in our gut, but it plays a critical role in keeping us healthy. The gut is a finely-tuned system where microorganisms reside and perform many critical functions. Things like diet, stress, antibiotic use, and many other factors disrupt the delicate balance of these bacteria in a manner that can impair immunity.

By ingesting fermented foods and incorporating probiotics into your diet, you can improve the body’s defences, not just in the gut. Studies have shown that probiotics can be effective in reducing the frequency and duration of common respiratory tract infections such as the common cold and illnesses with flu-like symptoms.

“Everyone can benefit from taking probiotics but not all probiotics are created equal,” says Dragana Skokovic-Sunjic, a Clinical Pharmacist at the Hamilton Family Health Team. “It's important that people take the right strain for what they require.” The Alliance for Education on Probiotics (AEP) has curated a detailed guide intended to healthcare professionals, The Clinical Guide to Probiotic Supplements Available in Canada, which provides information on products containing probiotics and how best to use them. 

According to Dr. Gregor Reid, Director of the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research at the Lawson Health Research Institute, by incorporating probiotics into your daily routine “evidence suggests they may delay onset of type II diabetes, better manage gut conditions, allergies and urogenital infections in women”, ultimately saving Canada’s healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars.