What Are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?
The rise of probiotic products has brought much needed attention to the trillions of good and bad bacteria that live in the gut. But what are the health benefits of probiotics and why should we know about them?
Astonishingly, there are actually more bacteria in our bodies than there are human cells.
This symbiotic relationship we have with bacteria is vital for normal functioning of our body, both physically and mentally.
Probiotics help to keep everything balanced by repopulating the good bacteria in the gut, which suppresses the over-production of bad bacteria.
Interestingly, the gut is also the area of the body with the highest concentration of immune cells. So, you can already start to see how our gut can affect our overall health and immune system.
Let’s take a look at the more detailed health benefits…
Health benefits of probiotics
If you have experienced symptoms such as bloating, gas, heartburn, recurring skin irritation, food intolerances, or autoimmune conditions, you may want to consider the benefits of probiotics.
There are many, but today we are focusing on the top 5 benefits that directly affect our health and wellbeing.
Antibiotics give their clue in the name, anti-biotics. In other words, they can alter some of the biotics (bacteria and yeasts) as they kill the infection. That means they effectively kill some of the good bacteria in the gut too. Probiotics, as you can likely also guess from the name, are the opposite to antibiotics. They are pro-biotics and they help to increase the number of good bacteria in your microbiome. If you have taken antibiotics in the past few years, you would likely benefit from probiotics to help rebalance your gut health.
Since the gut is the area of the body with the highest concentration of immune cells, this means you can strengthen your immune system directly through your gut health and probiotics. Furthermore, it’s vital for the immune system to respond only when necessary, as inappropriate responses can lead to inflammatory disorders such as IBS or celiac disease. Probiotic rich foods or supplements are one of the best ways to regulate the balance required for a healthy intestinal immune system.
Cognitive and Mental Health
Bacteria may be microscopic, but they should not be underestimated. The bacteria within our guts can stimulate specific neurons to send signals to our brain via the vagus nerve. Modern research has shown that these gut microbes can affect entire health including things like sleep, mood, memory and cognition. If we were to zoom in and study them, we would also see that some of the gut bacteria can produce their own electricity. That’s pretty impressive for some tiny microbes! It also highlights how much influence they can have over our wellbeing. Probiotics are the one of the top recommended therapeutic strategies for altering these gut responses towards better health.
Taking regular probiotics can also help your body to absorb more protein, vitamins and minerals from each meal. This is because they support the lining of the intestinal walls of the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Probiotics also help to lower the PH level in the colon, helping food to pass through it properly and improving insulin sensitivity.
Probiotics have been linked to healthier blood pressure in mice and in humans. It is still an active area of research, but it’s been shown that the gut bacteria respond to us eating probiotic foods by producing specific chemicals. These chemicals are then thought to enter the blood stream and activate the receptors that regulate blood pressure to healthier levels. Probiotics are also able to directly produce vitamins we need such as vitamin K2 which is vital for a healthy heart. Probiotics, for women and men alike, further promotes heart health when they are fueled by regular prebiotics.
What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Prebiotics are fiber that feed probiotics. You can find prebiotics in foods such as beans, garlic, onion, apple skin, bananas and asparagus.
Probiotics use the chemicals made from prebiotics as fuel for the good bacteria and yeast. They can be effective as both a probiotic supplement and taken from many fermented foods including pickles, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, kombucha, and tempeh.
Probiotics for the whole family
If you’re not keen on fermented foods or concerned about probiotics for kids, try to eat foods such as yogurt, cheddar and parmesan cheese, buttermilk, fresh or frozen peas, and sourdough bread. Supplements are also an option for probiotics for kids, and the capsules can also be opened so you can sprinkle some of the power onto foods to make it easier for kids to consume. Always make sure you choose a top-rated, well-researched supplement such as the Probiotic 10 Billion.
Are probiotics different for women and men?
Everyone responds differently to supplements, but we can all gain the health benefits of probiotics. Women and men may want to take different doses depending on their current weight and metabolism. Probiotics are measured by CFUs (colony forming units) which tells us how much bacteria it gives per dose. These typically range from 1-10 billion CFUs, taken in one or two capsules per day. Probiotic 10 Billion is one of the best probiotics for women and men due to its broad spectrum of benefits.
If in any doubt about taking probiotics and how much you should take, always consult advice from your doctor.