Did you know that the human body contains approximately 3.5 pounds of probiotic bacteria? That is more than how much our brain weighs! There seems to be a lot of confusion about what probiotics are. This article will explore probiotic benefits and the top signs you should be taking them.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria normally present in the digestive tract. Bacteria is usually considered undesired. However, probiotics are “good” bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. They are crucial for proper digestion and also perform a number of other useful functions. The probiotics most often used as supplements are acidophilus and bifidobacteria. Fermented foods also contain various types and amounts of beneficial bacteria. These foods include buttermilk, cheese, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt.
Now that you know what they are, we will discuss the top probiotic benefits.
Probiotics are extremely beneficial for you. In fact, they may be the most important supplement for you to take. Some of the benefits are:
- Help You Digest Food
- Solve Digestive Disorders
- Improve Intestinal Health
- Lower Cholesterol
- Enhance Immunity
- Support Weight Loss
- Assist in Brain Health
- Support Hormone Balance
Healthy digestive tracts eliminate things that can damage it. Some examples would be harmful bacteria, toxins, and chemicals. The balance of bacteria controls your gut function. Studies show that probiotics benefit the digestive system in many ways. It helps to restore the balance of bacteria in your gut. This affects many conditions related to your gut. We will discuss this more in detail later in the article. (7)
Probiotic benefits also include reducing cholesterol. Research from several studies reveals that certain Lactobacillus strains can lower cholesterol. Probiotics can decrease cholesterol in many ways. They normalize the absorption of cholesterol. Some strains can produce short-chain fatty acids. These acids can help prevent the formation of cholesterol in the liver. (12)
Probiotics also impact our immune system.
Some researchers believe that this role is the most significant. Our immune system is what protects us from germs. If your immune system doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders, and infections. If you can maintain a healthy immune system, you should be able to prevent these conditions. Our immune system can benefit anytime you restore the balance. Therefore, it’s never too late to balance it. (3)
Studies have also examined the effect of probiotics on fat loss. In this study, the subjects were people with extra belly fat. Scientists had them drink fermented milk products containing probiotics. These subjects lost 8.2-8.5% of their belly fat over 12 weeks! (13) However, once they stopped drinking the milk, all of the belly fat returned. Therefore probiotics can help people lose weight in some cases.
Another reason to learn more about probiotics benefits is that they affect your brain as well. Alongside your gut bacteria, there are yeasts and fungi. Each of these bacteria produces different compounds, such as short-chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, and amino acids. All of these have effects on the brain (11). Lastly, gut bacteria can also influence the brain and central nervous system by controlling inflammation and hormone production. (11)
Now that you know what the benefits of probiotics are, we will discuss the top signs you should be taking probiotics.
Top Signs You Should Be Taking Probiotics
There are many reasons that probiotics are good for you. They lower the number of “bad” bacteria in your gut. In addition, they exchange the “bad” bacteria with “good” bacteria. However, some people need probiotics more than others. Studies show that probiotics are most helpful if the following apply to you:
- Recently on Medicine
- Mental Health Problems
- Skin Conditions
- Digestive Disorders
- Auto-Immune Conditions
- Food-Borne Illness
- Weight Gain
Antibiotics play a vital role in killing bad bacteria. However, as they destroy the bad bacteria in infections, they also damage the good bacteria. This can result in diarrhea for a couple of days after you stop taking the medicine. Probiotics can help with diarrhea. This happens because probiotics balance out the bacteria in your gut. Studies show that probiotics help your intestines fight off unwanted pathogens. They also make sure that your nutrients are absorbing properly.
Research shows that some specific types of probiotics have demonstrated positive results in treating diarrhea and gastroenteritis. (7) According to an article published in the probiotics are effective at combating different forms of diarrhea.(6) Another study concluded that Lactobacillus species are effective for treating children with infectious diarrhea. The researchers concluded that preventive consumption of Lactobacillus species could significantly reduce the risk of diarrhea, particularly rotavirus gastroenteritis. (8)
Mental Health Disorders
Studies show that probiotics are beneficial for mental health issues as well. A small study done in 2017 found that probiotics help to decrease depression in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. (1) Another study done in 2016 consisted of people with major depression. They took a probiotic supplement containing three bacteria strains for eight weeks. At the end of the study, the majority had fewer depression symptoms. (2) Furthermore, another study done in 2017 found that probiotics decrease symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
Probiotic Benefits with Allergies
Scientists already know that the probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria is beneficial. This combination helps to maintain the immune system. Researchers believe it works because it increases the body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells. T-cells help increase tolerance to hay fever symptoms and other allergens. (3)
Skin conditions are also soothed by probiotics. If you have acne, rashes, eczema, rosacea or psoriasis, you could benefit from probiotics. Many studies show certain foods increase the skin’s oil production. Therefore, it results in acne and breakouts. However, probiotics will help to clear your skin. Some skincare products are enriched with probiotics. These products help reduce the appearance of age spots and fine lines. This is done by repairing stressed skin and skin renewal.
Additionally, probiotics can help with food-borne illness. Scientists found that probiotic bacteria can protect against infection by harmful bacteria. (9) Lactobacillus paracasei offers significant protection against the food-borne Listeria infection. A special Listeria-adhesion protein is added to L. paracasei. The probiotic microorganism will then latch on to the intestinal cells in place of Listeria. This creates competition between microorganisms. This competition can prevent harmful infections from finding somewhere to attach.
Probiotic Benefits with Weight Loss
Probiotics help with weight loss through a number of different ways (10). For example, some probiotics prevent the absorption of dietary fat. Then the fat exits through feces rather than being stored in the body. (11) They also help satisfy your hunger, burn more calories and store less fat. This is partly because probiotics increase certain hormones. (11) Additionally, they help you lose weight directly. In one study, dieting women who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus for 3 months lost 50% more weight than women who didn’t take a probiotic (12). Furthermore, another study of 210 people found that taking even low doses of probiotics for 12 weeks resulted in an 8.5% reduction of body fat. (12)
Hopefully, now you know much more about probiotics and why you should be taking them. If you don’t already take them, you should now. It’s never too late to start!