Probiotics have been the talk of the town for a while now. The hype describes probiotics as a cure-all, whether you have weight issues, skin problems, or poor immunity. However, in this case, the hype is well-deserved. Probiotics offer a number of benefits to people of all ages. As per the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the adult consumption of probiotics in 2012 was four times that of 2007. If you are wondering about the efficacy of probiotics and whether you need them, here is everything you need to know.
What are probiotics?
Everyone has live microorganisms in our gut, some good and some bad. For your digestive system to function at an optimum level, it is extremely important that the balance between these good and bad bacteria is maintained. Probiotic supplements can help do just this. Essentially, probiotics are live microorganisms that can be introduced into the body for beneficial purposes. The research on the usage of probiotics for treatment or prevention of different health conditions suggests that certain strains of probiotics are indeed helpful.
Sources of probiotics
If you are looking for foods that naturally have probiotics, fermented foods are your best bet. Fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut as well as fermented dairy products like yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and goat’s cheese are good sources of probiotics. You can also find probiotics in lower amounts in a few leafy greens or in a dietary supplement.
Popular strains of probiotics
When it comes to probiotic supplements, remember that there are different strains. These strains differ in their potency as well as their health benefits. Some of the most popular strains of probiotics include:
- Lactobacillus reuteri – One of the most studied probiotic strains, L. reuteri naturally inhabits the human gut. Apart from strengthening the immune system, this bacteria is also known to hinder the growth of bad microbes in your gut. Along with aiding adults, research indicates that Lactobacillus reuteri may also be able to alleviate the symptoms of colic in infants.
Interested in learning more about probiotics for babies and how they relate to colic? Read our blog post on how to soothe your newborn from colic.
- Bifidobacterium longum – This bacterial strain is perhaps one of the first strains that an infant is exposed to during childbirth because it is present in the mother’s vagina. Along with keeping your gut healthy, this strain also helps you out by metabolizing carbohydrates.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus - Yet another strain from the lactobacillus family, this probiotic strain is known for maintaining the balance between good and bad microbes in the gut. Research also suggests that L. acidophilus is somewhat effective in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Benefits of probiotics
As probiotics continue to grow in popularity it can be difficult to identify the most important reasons to add a probiotic supplement to your diet. Here are some of the most common health benefits that probiotics can provide when added to your daily diet:
Strengthens your immune system
Research indicates that approximately 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. When you consume probiotics, the balance between good and bad gut microbe is maintained. To maintain this balance, the probiotics inhibit the growth of harmful microbes and stimulate the growth of beneficial microbes, which in turn helps regulate the antibodies in the gut.
Helps with your skin issues
Your overall gut health is closely related to your skin health. This is because your body will be able to absorb nutrients optimally and get rid of toxins only when your gut flora is balanced. Probiotic consumption is believed to prevent skin issues like acne and eczema. One of the studies found that infants taking probiotics showed a significant improvement compared to the other group in terms of atopic eczema.
Helps in weight loss
A study found that obesity has a microbial component – people who are obese have around 70% less gut flora than people with a healthy body weight. The results of this study suggest that using probiotics to maintain your gut flora is likely to help you in losing weight. Yogurt, a fermented dairy product and a good source of probiotic, has been shown to prevent age-associated weight gain.
Maintains gut microbe equilibrium after antibiotic usage
Antibiotics, by nature, target and kill bacteria. These drugs do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria. If you have been prescribed antibiotics, chances are that there is an imbalance between good and bad microbes in your gut. Consuming probiotics after you are off the medications, helps ensure that the balance of the gut flora is restored. This, in turn, can boosts your immune system and helps improve your overall health.
Improves certain mental health conditions
The gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional connection between your gut and your mental functions. There is a lot of ongoing research to understand the intricacies of this relationship between the gut and the brain. Researchers from University College Cork have established a direct link between the gut microbe and mental health. In the book ‘The Psychobiotic Revolution’, researchers explore how gut microbes play an important role in dealing with mental health conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression.
Before you start taking probiotic supplements, it is important to consult with your doctor. Your doctor will be better able to guide you on they types of probiotics that are right for you.
At LoveBug Probiotics, you can find probiotics for your entire family including probiotics for women and even probiotics for babies. LoveBug Probiotics are also renowned for their patented Bio-tract delivery system, which makes the probiotics 15 times more effective than other options available.
Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics and Practice, 7(4), 987. http://doi.org/10.4081/cp.2017.987
Degnan FH. The US Food and Drug Administration and probiotics: regulatory categorization. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2008;46 (Suppl 2):S133–S136.
Didari T, Solki S, Mozaffari S, et al. A systematic review of the safety of probiotics. Expert Opinion on Drug Safety. 2014;13(2):227–239.
Duffy LC, Sporn S, Hibberd P, et al. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:469–478.
Pokusaeva, K., Fitzgerald, G. F., & van Sinderen, D. (2011). Carbohydrate metabolism in Bifidobacteria. Genes & Nutrition, 6(3), 285–306. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12263-010-0206-6
Sinn, D.H., Song, J.H., Kim, H.J. et al. Dig Dis Sci (2008) 53: 2714. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-007-0196-4
Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 153(Suppl 1), 3–6. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x
Zhang, Y.-J., Li, S., Gan, R.-Y., Zhou, T., Xu, D.-P., & Li, H.-B. (2015). Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(4), 7493–7519. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16047493