In college| my stomach turned against me. Every day I suffered from an uncomfortable| bloated feeling| and I never knew if I was going to be constipated or| equally as bad| going to have to stay near a bathroom. My doctor sent me to a gastroenterologist| who ran a test for celiac| which came back negative. I saw a naturopath who told me ¡ª a vegetarian since 13 ¡ª to start eating meat (um| thanks| but no). Eventually I was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowl syndrome)| but no one had any solid advice for how to deal.
Because all my friends were nature-loving vegans (and I was clearly lactose intolerant)| I decided to go vegan| which helped| as did giving up gluten. I was a gluten-free vegan for six years| but because I wasn’t eating enough protein and was downing tons of gluten-free junk| I gained a bunch of weight. So I went back to eating dairy| eggs| and gluten| and since I was eating a much healthier diet than my french-fry-loving vegan college days| I surprisingly felt almost 100 percent.
Fast-forward to July 2014. After watching the documentary Vegucated| I remembered the reasons why I went vegan so many years ago| and I gave up dairy on the spot. At first| my digestion improved| but then a few weeks later| those same symptoms came back| and this time it was even worse. I took a mental note of how my diet had changed and realized that when I was eating dairy| I ate Greek yogurt as a daily morning ritual. So I started eating soy yogurt and boom! ¡ª I felt amazing within two days. I was in shock. Probiotics were the cure I needed all along!
Nutritionist Willow Jarosh| RD| of C&J Nutrition explains that probiotics are good-for-you bacteria that live in our bodies| and more and more research is showing their benefit to general health| skin| weight control| and mood. “Certain strains of probiotics are especially gut-friendly| helping to reduce IBS-related symptoms like bloating| constipation| and diarrhea|” she explains. Willow suggests taking a supplement or eating a food that has probiotics to help build up the numbers of good bacteria| so they can edge out the bad bacteria that could be detrimental to our health and cause unwanted symptoms.
If you’re dealing with tummy troubles| it’s worth going the probiotic route| and yogurt is an inexpensive healthy choice. I eat one six-ounce container of soy yogurt (with some fiber-full berries| also great for the digestive tract) at least every other day| and my digestion has never been better. If you’re not a fan of soy and still want to avoid any digestive issues that come with eating dairy| try yogurt made from almond milk or coconut milk.
Image Source: Jenny Sugar