Have you heard the rumors about probiotics being good for you? You might hear you should take them as supplements or get them naturally from your diet. Whichever the case, you want to know how exactly probiotics are supposed to help you before you take them. Well, the thing is, you’re probably already consuming them unintentionally.
Did you know you’re getting probiotics if you put pickles on your burger and have yogurt for breakfast? The same goes for eating a side of sauerkraut and a slice of sourdough bread. What these foods have in common is fermentation, which is responsible for producing probiotics or good bacteria. Your gut, lungs, and skin are just some of your organs that rely on good bacteria to function.
But what are the benefits of intentionally consuming probiotics? And are there any caveats you should know beforehand? Here are four of the advantages probiotics can offer and what to keep in mind when taking them.
Your gut, including your large intestine, works hard to process the foods you eat. It separates the nutrients your body can use from the foods that you eat, eliminating what it can’t use as waste. Within your gut are an abundance of microorganisms to help break down food and support your immune system. However, your digestive system needs a good balance of bacteria to work properly.
Taking antibiotics and eating an unbalanced diet are a few ways the bacteria in your gut become unbalanced. Antibiotics may eliminate harmful bacteria that lead to infections, but these pills also kill the good stuff. This means you’re more likely to experience unpleasant gut-related symptoms such as an upset stomach and diarrhea. You can also develop uncomfortable yeast infections if you were assigned female at birth.
Although you can improve your diet, taking antibiotics might not be optional. Your doctor may prescribe them to manage moderate to severe acne or chronic sinus infections. While you’re on meds like antibiotics, you might want to increase your probiotic intake. You can incorporate supplements such as apple cider vinegar or ACV gummies with the Mother. The Mother is what contains the probiotics needed to rebalance your gut bacteria and reduce antibiotics’ side effects.
Suffer from irritable bowel syndrome? According to estimates, about 5% to 10% of the world’s population has the condition. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, with some individuals experiencing a wider range of signs. For example, one person with the syndrome may have frequent painful gas with constipation. Another might fluctuate between slow-moving and fast-moving stools.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the condition is that doctors haven’t been able to isolate its root cause. The medical community thinks there’s a connection between the human gut, nervous system, and brain. When the wires get crossed, it may cause the digestive system to misfire. There’s also some talk about autoimmune conditions correlating with gut problems.
The bottom line is there’s no cure yet for irritable bowel syndrome. But boosting your probiotic intake can help manage your symptoms. Besides using supplements, you can try including fermented foods in your diet. Yogurt is usually the easiest to swallow. You can also try kefir, which is fermented milk that resembles yogurt.
Western nations like the United States tend to have a growing obesity problem. Medical experts typically link it to factors like the Western diet and a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, Americans need to move more and eat less processed foods with added sugars. But some current studies also connect the dots between gut bacteria and obesity.
It’s not just the foods you eat and how much exercise you get. Your unique gut bacteria may predict whether you develop obesity. A review of 27 studies mentioning probiotics and obesity found 23 had documented effects of probiotics on weight loss. The catch is the studies’ participants also exercised and maintained healthy lifestyles.
Still, specific strains of probiotic bacteria seemed to help boost weight loss. These strains were Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. You’ll typically find the first strain in fermented milk products, including yogurt. Bifidobacterium is in a range of foods such as tempeh, pickles, and other fermented veggies. Probiotics with increased physical activity and a balanced diet may help you shed unwanted weight faster.
There’s some evidence probiotics help with immune-related conditions, such as eczema and the common cold. The medical community acknowledges a connection between gut and immune health, but all the intricacies of the correlation aren’t known. What is known is that viruses lead to colds, and some skin disorders manifest because of autoimmunity.
A robust immune system can help your body fight infections and resolve symptoms faster. When your immune system runs on all four cylinders, it may even reduce the severity of those symptoms. Your runny nose, cough, and fatigue won’t seem as bad. Your illness may last three days instead of nine. You can get back to the grind and experience less interruption to your routine.
On the other hand, autoimmune conditions are thought to be the result of an overactive system. Your immune response gears up because it’s more sensitive to what it perceives as “harmful invaders.” These “invaders” often include your own cells. The normal signals get lost somewhere in the connection between your body’s main systems. The evidence of whether probiotics can alleviate skin disorders like eczema is mixed, but they do support normal immune functions.
Your gut makes its own bacteria, so you may wonder why you would want to add to it with probiotics. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to. But modern advancements like antibiotics and processed foods can interfere with the healthy balance of gut bacteria. Conditions with elusive causes may also have links to digestive health. Increasing your intake of probiotics with fermented food sources and supplements can restore the balance a well-functioning body needs.
Angela Spearman is a journalist at EzineMark who enjoys writing about the latest trending technology and business news.