Here’s the thing about probiotics: They have a consistently good reputation that is growing even fast. They are reported to promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to numerous health benefits. What’s not to love about them?
But what are probiotics exactly, and what does your body do with them?
Okay, let’s go over the chemistry of it: Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be ingested through fermented foods or supplements. These “good” bacteria help in boosting the body’s immunity, digestive health and weight loss.
Now, here are a few more interesting benefits of probiotics that you need to know about.
1. Probiotics Help in Restoring the Friendly Bacteria in the Gut
Probiotics are made up of “good” bacteria that provide a myriad of benefits to the body. They do this by naturally balancing out the bacteria in the digestive tract. An imbalance can be caused by poor diet, diseases, drugs, antibiotics, and more.
“Bad” bacteria have been known to lead to allergies, weight gain, digestive issues, and mental health problems. So when probiotics (found in fermented foods or probiotic supplements) are consumed, they restore the natural balance of gut bacteria and prevent a lot of medical conditions.
2. Probiotics May Help in Weight and Belly Fat Loss
Are you aware that carrying extra weight around your midsection has been linked with several medical conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hormone problems? No intentions to sound alarmist here, studies show that people with thicker midsections have increased risk of premature death.
Fortunately, probiotics may help with trimming your midsection and helping you shed extra body fat through a number of different mechanisms. For instance, some probiotics strains block dietary fat from being absorbed in the intestine. The fat is then passed through feces rather than stored in the body.
Interestingly, consuming probiotics may also make you feel fuller for longer, burn more calories and store less fat. This is partly because of the high levels of certain hormones like GLP-1.
3. Probiotics May Help in Improving the Severity of Some Allergies and Eczema
Eczemas are no fun. Not at all. But to reduce their severity, there are probiotic strains that may help in reducing this skin condition in children and infants. In fact, one study showed that infants who were fed with probitic-suppplemented milk showed improved eczema symptoms than infants fed milk without probiotics.
These live organisms can do a lot to alleviate a lot of skin issues such as reducing sensitivity and soreness to defending the skin against the damage caused by the environment. Additionally, certain probiotics can help to reduce the risk of inflammatory reactions in people with milk or dairy intolerance. However, note that the evidence of its effect on inflammation is weak and extensive studies are needed.
However, there are now skincare products that contain probiotics, which can be applied directly to the skin to help defend it against infections, reduce the stress level in the skin and lower sensitivity of the skin. These skincare products have been proven to cause positive and noticeable impacts on skin health and how fast it ages.
4. Probiotics Help in improving Some Mental Health Disorders
Several studies on both animals and humans have indicated that probiotic supplements can boost mental health. Some other researchers have suggested that probiotics may help improve symptoms like depression, stress, anxiety, and memory loss, among other mental health conditions.
5. Probiotics Help in the Prevention and Treatment of Diarrhea
One of the signs that something is amiss in your gut is diarrhea. Thankfully, probiotics are well-known for their ability to prevent this “no fun” illness or reduce its severity. Indeed, Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus casei strains have proven most effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea.
Antibiotics have been fingered as a major cause of diarrhea, as they can adversely affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. This is where probiotics come in: According to studies, probiotic consumption is linked to a lowered risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea. However, they can also help with preventing other forms of diarrhea not associated with antibiotics.
6. Probiotics Can Help to Promote Heart Healthy Functions
If you’re concerned about reducing bad cholesterol and blood pressure, certain strains of probiotics can address these and help you lower them. Since some lactic acid-producing bacteria are responsible for breaking down bile in the gut, they then aid digestion, leading to a reduction in cholesterol.
Trying out probiotics may also prove helpful in lowering blood pressure. However, to get the best of probiotics, especially concerning the lowering of blood pressure, supplementation has to last more than 8 weeks with 10 million colony-forming units (CFUs) daily.
7. Probiotics Can Help in Alleviating the Symptoms of Some Digestive Disorders
Did you know that more than one million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease? Well, some strains of probiotics like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have proven to help improve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Probiotics may also help in reducing the risk of chronic necrotizing enterocolitis by half. In case you didn’t know, necrotizing enterocolitis is a fatal bowel condition that occurs in infants born premature.
Surprisingly, probiotics seem to have an almost nonexistent effect on symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
8. Probiotics Can Help to Boost your Immune System
You want to block the growth of “bad” gut bacteria? Probiotics are your best bet. More so, as they help in boosting immunity and producing natural antibodies in the body. They may also help to bolster immune cells like the IgA-producing cells, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells.
That’s not even all—reviews show that consuming probiotics, especially the Lactobacillus GG strain, reduced the probability and duration of respiratory infections. The Lactobacillus crispatus strain has also been found to lower the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women by half.
The Bottom Line
It might sound obvious, but probiotic-packed diets or supplement can get your gut back on track. These “good” bacteria are perfect for promoting a healthy gut, leading to a proper absorption of nutrients and overall good health. The smart thing to do is to eat foods that contain plenty of probiotics. They are found in fermented foods and drinks like ginger beer, yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, pickled vegetables, kefir, and kimchi. Probiotic supplements are also easily accessible in drug stores.
Talking about inflammation, it is the cause of numerous health concerns, so anything that can help in fighting inflammation in the body should be explored. If you’re wondering what to do, probiotic treatments, especially those with a Lactobacillus strains, can prove very helpful. Lactobacillus is a lactic acid bacterium that balances out active ingredients, encourages cell renewal, and promotes general health. You may feel a little doubtful, but, hey, it works.
However, note that some probiotics can be rendered ineffective by stomach acid before they even reach the digestive tract — this means that you get none of the intended health benefits.If you want to enjoy the many health benefits that probiotics offer, it is essential that you consume the right amounts. A dosage of between a billion and 100 billion live organisms or colony-forming units (CFU) is recommended daily for optimal results.