Probiotics are living bacteria and yeast that provide numerous health benefits to our bodies. Although people consider bacteria to be harmful germs, there are also good bacteria. The question is how to distinguish between the good and bad bacteria.
Your intestines alone have many bacteria than the number of cells in your body. These bacteria help digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms and produce vitamins. Sources of probiotics include yogurt, cheese, lactobacillus milk, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
There are different types of probiotics and you should know which ones are more beneficial. These probiotics include:
- Lactobacillus– Comes from yogurt and other fermented foods. It helps with diarrhea and may help people who can’t digest lactose and sugar in milk.
- Bifidobacterium– you can find it in some dairy products. It helps to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and many other conditions.
- Saccharomyces boulardii– this is a yeast found in probiotics. It fights diarrhea and other digestive issues.
Below are the different ways probiotics can help you.
Help Balance The bacteria in Your Digestive System
Imbalance means you have too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. Some of the reasons for the imbalance in bacteria include aging, stress, medications (birth control, steroids, and antacids), food, and your general lifestyle. This imbalance in bacteria can result in digestive issues, mental health problems, obesity, allergies, and many other conditions. Probiotics can restore the natural balance of gut bacteria and maintain a healthy condition in your body. You can find probiotics in fermented food or supplements.
Boosts Immune System
Probiotics promote the production of natural antibodies in the body which help boost cells like T lymphocytes, IgA-producing cells, and natural killer cells. Probiotics inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria. A good supplement with multiple strains of good bacteria helps support the foundation of your health.
Helps in Weight Loss and Belly Fat
Probiotics help you feel full for long, burn calories and store less fat. The weight loss happens through a number of different mechanisms one of them being that probiotics prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestines. This fat is then excreted rather than stored.
According to studies, taking low doses of Lactobacillus gasseri can result in the reduction of belly fat. However, not all probiotics aid in weight loss.
Prevents and Treats Diarrhea
Probiotics reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. In most cases, diarrhea is a side effect of taking antibiotics. This happens when antibiotics negatively affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in the guts.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and yeast Saccharomyces boulardii are the commonly used probiotics to reduce the risk of diarrhea.
Probiotics Help in Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Taking probiotics regularly can help maintain good cholesterol and keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. Lactic acid producing bacteria breaks down bile (a naturally occurring fluid mostly made of cholesterol) in the gut and prevents the reabsorption of that bile. If reabsorbed, the bile can enter blood as cholesterol which is not healthy for the heart.
Improves Mental Health Conditions
In a case study involving 15 humans, it was found that supplements such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strain can improve anxiety, depression, autism, memory, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Research shows that the gut and brain are always connected. This makes the gut to have an impact on your mental well-being.
Probiotic supplements can improve mental health disorder, decrease depression levels and reduce the level of C-reactive protein (causes inflammation). Daily consumption of 100g of probiotic yogurt or probiotic capsule impacts your body positively.
Reduces Symptoms of Certain Digestive Disorders
Inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can be improved with probiotics. People with mild ulcerative colitis can use Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus to improve their condition. However, probiotics have less effect on symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Research shows that probiotics can help to reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, (a fatal bowel condition in premature infants) by 50%
Most people consider probiotics safe. However, you might experience a few side effects related to digestion like gas and mild abdominal discomfort which improves as your body adjusts. In case of any medical condition, consult your doctor before taking a probiotic supplement.
Stomach destroys some probiotics before they reach the guts. To survive this, microencapsulated or coated probiotics strains have been developed. Moreover, the viable probiotics that don’t survive gastric transit are beneficial in their dead form.
You can obtain probiotics in the form of tablets, capsules or powder and it’s important that you consume the recommended amount.
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