You’ve probably heard about probiotics, but how well do you know them? Experts say that probiotics help to promote a healthy gut.
Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, pickles, and kombucha are also said to help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and diarrhea.
Read on to find out how probiotics help to combat these diseases, reduce the severity of allergies and eczema, keep your heart healthy, and even enhance some mental conditions!
Worried about probiotics’ side effects? We’ll also discuss in this article the possible side effects when taking probiotics so you can be properly informed.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer an extensive array of benefits when ingested, particularly for your digestive system.
While it’s true that many germs and bacteria trigger various diseases, some bacteria are good for your body. These probiotics are the “good” or “helpful” bacteria that your body needs more of.
Thankfully, you can get probiotics from supplements and foods that undergo the process of fermentation. Adding probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods to your diet may help enhance your gut health.
What are the Types of Probiotics?
There are actually several types of probiotics. Most of them, though, come from the strains of two main species: Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
Bifidobacterium can be found in fermented milk products like yogurt. This species is known to be helpful in boosting the immune system and preventing digestive ailments.
It is also known for its crucial role in fighting food-borne pathogens such as salmonella, which often triggers diarrhea.
Lactobacillus, on the other hand, is the most common probiotic. It is also contained in fermented dairy products such as yogurt.
It helps your gut by keeping a balance between the good and bad bacteria, which in turn boosts your immunity as well.
Among its prized benefits are its abilities to prevent the growth of Candida albicans, and maintain cholesterol levels.
What are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?
Ready to learn more about the health benefits of probiotics? Read on and discover how it can protect your digestive system and let you enjoy other health perks, too!
It promotes a balanced microbiome
Most of our modern habits and diets today expose us to environmental toxins and unhealthy ingredients respectively, which can disrupt the balance of bacteria in our bodies.
Other factors such as medications, stress, and aging also pose danger on your microflora balance. Thankfully, consuming probiotic-rich foods and supplements may help prevent these unfavorable effects.
It helps to prevent and treat diarrhea
There are many possible causes of diarrhea, and these include food intolerances, food contamination, bacterial or viral infection, or intestinal disease.
You may also experience diarrhea when you take antibiotics, which can adversely affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.
Several studies show that probiotics help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, especially in pediatric populations.
A systematic review of studies also found that probiotics, when used alongside rehydration therapy, offer a safe intervention in reducing the duration and severity of infectious diarrhea.
It reduces symptoms of digestive disorders
People suffering from IBD, IBS, and other digestive ailments are commonly advised to get more probiotics from their diets.
This is because certain probiotics from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains were found to improve symptoms of IBD and other related diseases by modifying the gut microbiota.
Another research found that probiotics also exhibit beneficial effects on IBS symptoms. Additionally, a separate study revealed that they also prevent severe necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants.
It supports better nutrient absorption
Regardless of how much superfoods you eat, if your body isn’t capable to absorb its nutrients well, you won’t enjoy its health rewards.
How so? Enzymes, which are produced by digestive bacteria, break down food efficiently, delivering the essential nutrients contained in the foods that we eat.
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can adversely affect this process, and can even cause malabsorption of nutrients.
Several studies reveal the link between gut microbes and nutrient absorption in humans, suggesting that healthy gut microbiota is key for the optimum absorption of nutrients.
Luckily, probiotics help stabilize microbial communities, paving the way for the better absorption of important vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy.
It boosts your immunity
Apparently, probiotics possess immunity-boosting powers, too. What’s more, they also prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut.
Several studies also found evidence that probiotics help prevent upper respiratory tract infections by regulating the body’s immune function. One study showed that probiotics reduced the duration of acute URTI.
Another study revealed that taking the probiotic Lactobacillus GG reduced the number of respiratory tract infections by 17 percent in children attending daycare centers.
It helps to enhance your mood
Surprisingly, your gut environment also plays a role in your mood. The good bacteria in your intestine also produce neurotransmitters that affect your mood.
Around 90 percent of the body’s serotonin, the neurotransmitter tagged as the happy chemical, is produced in the digestive tract, making probiotics’ role in health even more crucial.
Some studies also found that probiotic consumption help to lessen negative thoughts linked with sadness. However, more studies are encouraged to assess the potential of probiotics in combating depression.
It promotes heart health
Probiotics also help to protect your heart against chronic diseases by reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol and blood pressure.
A meta-analysis of studies discovered that probiotic supplements can significantly reduce total cholesterol. A separate meta-analysis also found that probiotic intake also enhances blood pressure modestly.
It aids in weight loss
Do you have serious weight loss goals? Maybe it’s time you start adding probiotics to your diet! Probiotics may assist your weight loss efforts through various mechanisms.
For instance, some probiotics suppress fat absorption in the intestine and promote fecal fat excretion in humans. This means, instead of being stored in the body as a fat, it is excreted through feces.
What’s more, probiotics also help to keep you fuller for longer. One study also showed that probiotics prevented weight gain and insulin resistance by modifying the composition of the gut flora.
A certain probiotic was found to promote the release of GLP-1, a hormone produced and released in the gut, resulting in decreased food intake and enhanced glucose tolerance.
It is important to take note, though, that not all probiotics promote weight loss. Some studies conclude that different species of Lactobacillus have varying effects on weight change.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, resulted in significant weight gain in both human and animal models, while Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus ingluviei increased the weight of animal subjects only.
It improves skin health
People suffering from certain skin conditions like eczema may also find relief from probiotics. Certain probiotic strains were also found to reduce the severity of eczema, particularly in infants and children.
One study discovered that infants who were fed probiotic-supplemented milk exhibited improved eczema symptoms compared to those who were fed milk without probiotics.
Another study concluded that probiotics have a promising potential in reducing the risk of eczema in infants when administered to pregnant and breastfeeding moms.
What is the Best Way to Get More Probiotics?
You can enjoy the benefits of probiotics by taking probiotic supplements or adding probiotic-rich foods to your regular diet.
If supplementation is the route you’re going for, you can choose from a wide array of probiotic supplements online, particularly on Amazon. Try to look for the ones that have tons of positive customer reviews.
It is best, however, if you’ll get probiotics from food. Aside from yogurt and other fermented dairy products, you can also get probiotics from pickled veggies, kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir.
Just remember that for you to enjoy these benefits, you need to consume adequate amounts of probiotics. Researchers believe that the effective dosage ranges from 10 million to one billion CFU/mg per day.
Are there Side Effects When Taking Probiotics?
While it is considered generally safe to take probiotics, some people are advised to refrain from consuming them such as people with certain health conditions and immune system problems.
If you have these medical concerns or are taking certain medications, it is best to seek professional advice on whether probiotics are safe for your health.
Mild side effects may be observed in other cases, which may include diarrhea, bloating, gas, and upset stomach.
Probiotic consumption may also trigger allergic reactions. If this happens, immediately stop intake and see your physician for proper guidance and advice.
Experts are encouraging the intake of probiotics to keep your gut healthy. Luckily, you can get them from supplements and fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Adding probiotic supplements or probiotic-rich foods to your regular diet can make you enjoy several health perks like reduced risk of digestive problems, stronger immunity, better heart health, and improved mood!
Just make sure that you are getting adequate amounts to maximize probiotics’ health potential, and talk to your doctor if you have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications to remain safe.