General Health

10 Benefits of Probiotics and Why You Need Them

Our gut contains millions of bacteria. They outnumber cells, 10 to 1.]

There is nothing to be worried about; however, most of the bacteria in the gut are harmless. It’s there to aid with the digestive process.

Good bacteria have been linked to weight loss, more energy, and a stronger immune system.

The most talked-about bacteria are probiotics. We’re going to explore in-depth the different types of probiotics benefits.

What are Probiotics?

Our body normally has what we would call good or helpful bacteria and bad or harmful bacteria.

Maintaining the correct balance between these bacteria is necessary for optimal health. Age, genetics, and diet may influence the composition of the bacteria in the body (microbiota).

Probiotics are a combination of live bacteria and yeast called microorganisms. These microorganisms live inside your digestive tract and are considered good bacteria. Probiotics help your digestive system work smoothly, thus helping your body absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat.

Probiotics should not be confused with Prebiotics, which is a fiber that helps feed the good bacteria in your gut.

Types of Probiotics

Probiotics come in many types. Here are some of the most common Probiotics species you will find in foods and supplements.

Lactobacillus

This species produces lactic acid and an enzyme called lactase. Lactic acid helps control the harmful bacteria in your gut. It also helps the body absorb minerals and gives fuel to your muscles. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose in sugar and dairy products. Lactobacillus is found in three areas of the body:

  • Mouth

  • Small intestine

  • Vaginal area

Bifidobacteria

This species of bacteria is commonly used in foods and found in supplements. Bifidobacteria supports the immune system, turns lactose into nutrients the body can use, and limits the growth of harmful bacteria.

Along with species, probiotics also come in strains that are associated with the two main species of probiotics.

These strains are commonly found in supplements. Each strain has a different function and will be accompanied by a B or L in front of the name so you can tell which species is derived from. These are the six most common strains.

1) B. animalis
Most commonly found in Activia yogurt, this strain helps with digestion and fighting foodborne bacteria.

2) B. lactis

This strain comes from raw milk. It is used to make:

  • Cheese

  • Cottage Cheese

  • Buttermilk

3) B. breve

This strain fights infection in the intestinal and vaginal area. It helps break down plant fiber and also helps with the fermentation of sugar, aiding in the absorption of nutrients.

4) B. longum
The B. longum lives in the intestinal tract. This strain breaks down carbohydrates.

5) L. acidophilus
Found in the small intestine and vagina, this strain aids with digestion and helps fight vaginal bacteria. This strain is found in yogurt and some fermented soy products.

6) L. reuteri
Found in the mouth and the intestines, this strain can help with digestion and may also fight the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

10 Benefits of Probiotics

1) Balance Friendly Bacteria

Probiotics help balance the good bacteria by keeping the harmful bacteria in check. Our bodies host millions of harmful bacteria that don’t cause any symptoms or any harm. If the environment is right, however, infection or disease can develop.

Probiotics help the gut environment stay healthy by preventing the right environment for the harmful bacteria to multiply and cause a problem. The National Institute of Health published an article on a research study done in Thailand.

Certain strains of staph bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (s.aureus), can’t be treated with antibiotics. The study found that participants who had bacillus in their stool or nasal samples had nos. Aureus bacteria. In other words, the bacillus help control the staph bacteria.

2) Heart Health

Fish, eggs, red meat and poultry, contain a chemical called choline. As choline is processed through the liver, it turns into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is connected to the formation of plaque in the arteries. Microbes feed on choline, thus preventing them from entering the liver.

Another benefit of probiotics is that they may also help regulate blood pressure.

Probiotics work to provide a healthy environment for short-chain fatty acids that are only found in the gut. It is believed that short-chain fatty acids are involved in blood vessel dilation and restriction, keeping your blood pressure normal.

Microbes that live in the mouth may also take the nitrate found in vegetables and turn it into nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels.

3) Immune System

Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your gut? Everything we eat passes through the intestines. It’s the job of the intestines to filter out the bad or useless stuff in food and let the nutrients pass through into the bloodstream.

Studies have found that the healthy gut bacteria in probiotics line the intestinal wall keeping out the harmful substances and letting the good substances pass through the body.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) is one of the most common probiotic strains used in supplements. It is known to help prevent gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea. LGG can also help boost immune health response and possibly prevent allergic symptoms.

Studies have also linked LGG to a reduced risk of respiratory infections and the promotion of gut health overall.

4) Weight Loss

An imbalance of the human microbiome (dysbiosis) may be linked to obesity. A study done in 2016 found that the gut flora in people with a healthy weight was not the same as people with obesity.

A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that women who ate a healthy diet and took the supplement Lactobacillus rhamnosus lost more weight than the women who took a placebo.

Researchers have also looked at Lactobacillus gasseri for fat loss. Participants who drank fermented milk products containing Lactobacillus gasseri lost 8.2-8.5% of their belly fat over 12 weeks. They found that participants gained the fat back when they stopped drinking the milk products containing the probiotic.

By filtering out harmful ingredients, probiotics may also inhibit the absorption of fat and push it out with excretion.

Probiotic supplementation alone can help with weight loss by helping with constipation and metabolism; however, a probiotic supplement is more effective when taken in tandem with a healthy diet and exercise — getting the right amount of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein as essential to good health.

With a busy lifestyle, it is often hard to eat healthily. We tend to go to the vending machine and buy a sugary snack to help with hunger cravings. There are healthier alternatives to candy bars and cookies. You can read about them here and come up with your own ideas as well. Other conditions are linked to what you eat, including prostate health.

Exercises such as these are necessary, along with a healthy diet. You should be getting at least 21/2 hours a week of activity. Exercise not only boosts your metabolism, but it also relieves stress and releases endorphins to help with mood.

It’s also important to note that blood sugar is also affected by when you are overweight or obese. You may even already have Type 2 diabetes.

Probiotics, as well as natural herbs, can help manage and possibly reverse Type 2 diabetes. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, a good supplement can help you get the right combination of natural ingredients to help your pancreas use insulin more efficiently.

Obesity leads to multiple health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Being obese can also put you at risk for metabolic syndrome.

5) Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract. Research suggests that those with Crohn’s disease have an imbalance of digestive bacteria in their gut. Probiotics may be able to balance out the microbiome to help lessen symptoms and alter immune responses such as diarrhea or upset stomach.

Although research has not proven that taking a supplement may help ease some of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, it’s worth giving it a try and easy to incorporate into your diet.

6) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is an uncomfortable condition that causes diarrhea, constipation, or both. People who have IBS may experience abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. It is unknown what causes IBS, but eating certain foods can aggravate symptoms.

IBS has been linked to specific changes in gut flora. They have a higher amount of harmful bacteria growth in the small intestine and lower amounts of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in their gut. Probiotics can help manage the symptoms of IBS.

7) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

After surgery for ulcerative colitis, the surgeon may create a pouch if most of your colon has been removed. The lining of the pouch sometimes becomes irritated or inflamed.

In a study with mice with colitis, given probiotic treatment did show improvement. In a 2018 scientific review, it was concluded that although probiotics have a role in helping IBS, there is no conclusive proof that probiotics can be used for the treatment of IBS. More clinical trials need to be done.

8) Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common side effect of antibiotics. A review of 17 studies showed that using different strains of probiotics significantly reduced the incidences of antibiotic-induced diarrhea.

9) Lactose Intolerance

Approximately 60% of the population has trouble digesting lactose due to the low amounts of lactase enzyme activity. In this systematic review, The effects of probiotics in lactose intolerance: A systematic review concluded that overall probiotics helped with the digestion of lactose. However, more clinical studies need to be done to

10) Food Allergies

Food allergies are rising in prevalence. Research is suggesting that a change in the intestinal flora may contribute to the increase in food allergies. There could be many contributors to the shift in gut flora.

  • Antibiotics

  • Environmental factors

  • A diet high in fat and processed foods

  • C-section birth (babies don’t pick up Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in the birth canal

  • Formula feeding instead of breastfeeding

  • Too much time indoors

The use of probiotics for food allergies could be a significant breakthrough. A study to examine eczema in infants treated mothers in the prenatal stage. The incidences of eczema and asthma were cut in half in the children whose mothers took probiotics.

There correlation between the intestinal composition of microflora and allergies.

Studies have paved the way for using probiotics to help with food allergies with some success. They have not, however, concluded that probiotics could prevent food allergies or cure them. More research needs to be done.

Probiotics in Food

Probiotics can be found naturally in food such as:

  • Yogurt Kefir: Are a source of probiotics, live organisms (like bacteria and yeast) that, when consumed in certain amounts, exert health benefits.

  • Kimchi: This fermented vegetable is made from Chinese cabbage (beachu), radish, green onion, red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, and fermented seafood (jeotgal

  • Tempeh: Unpasteurized, fermented foods may contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that may provide health benefits when eaten. 

  • Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a source of immune-boosting probiotics and nutrients.

Eating foods that contain probiotics can help with the diversity of the gut flora. You may not be able to eat these foods. However, because of the strong taste or allergies to dairy so you may need to take a supplement.

Choosing the Right Supplements

There are a lot of companies on the Internet selling probiotic supplements.

Keep in mind; herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA. What this means is that when you read the label of a product, and it says it has an ingredient in the supplement, it could be a lot less than you need or a lot more.

This means you have to buy from a reputable company. Here are some tips for finding the right supplements.

Go to the company website and read the About section. That will tell you the company story and why they are dedicated to your health.

Smaller businesses value their customers and will give the best service. They should have a chat option or call option so you can ask questions before you buy.

A reputable company will have ingredients listed and what percentage of the ingredient is in each dose.

Conclusion

Probiotics play a crucial role in health and wellness. They can help keep your digestive system healthy, boost the immune system, help with metabolism, and relieve symptoms of digestive conditions.

Probiotics can even help with the prevention or treatment of other conditions, such as diabetes and prostate health. The human body has trillions of bacteria located in different parts of the body. Probiotics can help manage a majority of that bacteria to keep you healthy and happy.

Sources

  1. https://journals.lww.com/jcge/Abstract/2003/02000/Use_of_Probiotics_in_the_Treatment_of_Inflammatory.5.aspx
  2. Jonkers D, Stockbrügger R. Probiotics and inflammatory bowel disease. J R Soc Med. 2003;96(4):167–171.
  3. Blaabjerg S, Artzi DM, Aabenhus R. Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Outpatients-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Antibiotics (Basel). 2017;6(4):21. Published 2017 Oct 12. doi:10.3390/antibiotics6040021
  4. Oak SJ, Jha R. (2019). The effects of probiotics in lactose intolerance: A systematic review.. Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 59 (11), p1675-1683.
  5. https://kresserinstitute.com/gut-flora-food-allergies-connection/
  6. Kalliomäki M1, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koskinen P, Isolauri E.. (2001). Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomised placebo-controlled trial.. Lancet. 7 (9262), p1076-9
  7. Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013;6(1):39–51. doi:10.1177/1756283X12459294
  8. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/probiotic-bacteria-block-harmful-microbe
  9. Yan F, Polk DB. Probiotics and immune health. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011;27(6):496–501. doi:10.1097/MOG.0b013e32834baa4
  10. Segers ME, Lebeer S. Towards a better understanding of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG–host interactions. Microb Cell Fact. 2014;13 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S7. doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-S1-S
  11. Hojsak I1, Abdović S, Szajewska H, Milosević M, Krznarić Z, Kolacek S.. (2010). Lactobacillus GG in the prevention of nosocomial gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections.. Pediatrics. 125 (5), p1171
  12. Bell DS. (2015). Changes seen in gut bacteria content and distribution with obesity: causation or association?. Postgraduate medicine. 127 (8), p863-8
  13. https://corpus.ulaval.ca/jspui/bitstream/20.500.11794/15362/1/effect_of_lactobacillus_rhamnosus_cgmcc13724_supplementation_on_weight_loss_and_maintenance_in_obese_men_and_women.pdf
  14. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/effect-of-lactobacillus-gasseri-sbt2055-in-fermented-milk-on-abdominal-adiposity-in-adults-in-a-randomised-controlled-trial/304E3E2EE11E0D3D4F5D85E7046118A1

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