10 Powerful Health Benefits of Probiotics
The gut is known as your ‘second brain’ for a reason! Most people don’t realise the importance of gut health, until they begin to struggle with digestive disorders that affect their entire body in various ways. However, these disorders can be kept at bay with certain healthy precautions. Besides averting digestive disorders, a healthy gut will boost your immune system and your production of hormones.
Both good, as well as bad bacteria, thrive in your gut. When there is an imbalance between the bacteria, your bad bacteria often outnumber your good bacteria, which impacts your immune system and has whole-body repercussions. You’ll also be more prone to virus and bacteria infections and may fall sick often. Your diet, lifestyle, and stress triggers are a few factors that affect the balance between the good and the bad bacteria in your tummy.
Probiotics that can be derived from fermented foods like yoghurt, pickles, etc or probiotic supplements play a key role in maintaining the balance between the good and the bad bacteria for the upkeep of gut health. Probiotics are also linked to various other health benefits like boosting immune function, promoting digestive health and weight loss. The potential health benefits of probiotics are discussed in this article.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Maintaining the balance of the gut microbiome is of utmost importance for overall well-being. Probiotics play an important role in maintaining the gut microbiome balance and promoting overall health. The various health benefits of probiotics are:
#1. Supports Mental Health
Gut health is often associated with mental health and moods. Several studies have been conducted and have vouched for the link between gut health and mental health disorders. Consuming supplements with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains for a couple of months positively impacted depression, anxiety, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), memory, and autism.
Studies also indicated that adding probiotic supplements to a diet for 8 weeks not only improved depression but also lowered the levels of C-reactive protein, a risk factor of inflammation.
#2. Beneficial For Diarrhoea
Some strains of probiotics can effectively prevent or reduce the intensity of diarrhoea. When you are on antibiotics the balance of gut microbiomes will be affected which may result in diarrhoea. Probiotics are very effective in treating antibiotics-related diarrhoea. C-diff is a bacteria that can cause diarrhoea. Most people who are on antibiotics are prone to C-difficile infection and taking probiotics reduced this infection by 60%.
A review showed that probiotic consumption can reduce the period of diarrhoea by almost 25 hours. Strains that effectively reduce the risk of diarrhoea are Lactobacillus casei, the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. However, the effectiveness depends on the dosage of probiotics.
#3. Maintains Microbiome Balance
Probiotics, the live microorganisms include good bacteria. The consumption of probiotics has various advantages. One of the advantages is replenishing the balance between bad and good bacteria in your gut. An imbalance will result in bad bacteria scoring over good bacteria. The imbalance can be an outcome of an unhealthy diet or medications like antibiotics. The impact will be allergies, mental health disorders, obesity, digestive disorders, etc.
Fermented foods are a good source of probiotics. But you can also derive probiotics from probiotic supplements.
#4. Promotes Heart Health
One of the most important health benefits of probiotics is the maintenance of heart health. Some probiotic strains help in keeping LDL cholesterol and blood pressure under control. By keeping the key markers of heart issues under control, probiotics help in promoting health.
Bile is a naturally occurring fluid that helps in digestion. It is mainly made of cholesterol. Breaking down bile in the gut is very imperative to avoid the absorption of bile as cholesterol into the bloodstream. Certain bacteria that produce lactic acid help in reducing cholesterol by facilitating the breaking down of bile in the gut.
#5. Helps Treat Digestive Disorders
Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are some of the common digestive disorders. The probiotic strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium help in improving the symptoms of ulcerative colitis when it is mild. It also helps in overcoming irritable bowel disorders. But their effect on Crohn’s disease is considerably low.
#6. Boosts Immune Function
Probiotics aid in improving gut health by strengthening the immune system and limiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Antibodies produced naturally by the body are essential for robust immune health. Probiotics facilitate the production of these antibodies. With an improved immune function, the defence against various allergies and infections also becomes stronger.
#7. Supports Weight Loss
The health benefits of probiotics abound. They include aiding weight loss, especially, reducing belly fat. Probiotics avert the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine and the excess fat is not stored in the body but excreted as waste. Probiotics keep you full for longer and suppress appetite and hunger pangs and also help in burning more calories. With restricted calorie intake, healthy weight management becomes possible. Probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus when ingested continuously for 3 months cause weight loss. Another probiotic strain that aids in the reduction of belly fat is Lactobacillus gasseri.
#8. Reduces The Severity of Allergies
An imbalance in the gut microbiome is the cause of allergies and infections. Probiotics help in maintaining balance and prevent bad bacteria from thriving. By doing so, they help in reducing the severity of allergies and infections.
#9. Supports Gut Integrity
Gut inflammation is the main cause of leaky gut syndrome. Probiotics inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines and increase proinflammatory molecules. Specific strains of Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli, Bacillus, and Saccharomyces appear to be most helpful in reducing this inflammation. The rectification of gene expression by probiotics aids in averting leaky gut syndrome and maintaining gut integrity.
#10. Enhances Nutrient Absorption
You will not benefit from a healthy diet unless the nutrients are effectively absorbed into the body. A healthy gut microflora is crucial to the absorption of dietary nutrients in the small intestine. The good bacteria in the small intestine break down the food into nutrients that can be absorbed into the bloodstream to be used by the body for various functions.
The absorption of nutrients will be restricted when you have digestive disorders. The health benefits of probiotics include aiding the effective absorption of vitamins and minerals from our diet. Vitamins and minerals are highly essential for overall well-being.
The health benefits of probiotics have been scientifically proven. Gut health is of prime importance for overall well-being. Probiotics preserve gut health by maintaining the balance between the good and the bad bacteria. Probiotics can be derived from either dietary sources or supplements. Maintain robust gut health and overcome serious health issues.
Can kids have probiotics?
If your kid is on antibiotics, you can give probiotics to deal with the side effects caused by antibiotics.
What are the side effects of probiotics?
Probiotics are generally safe. Even Though excess consumption of probiotics is not considered an overdose, they may cause side effects like diarrhoea, gas, bloating, etc.
When do you realise that you need probiotics?
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is an indication that you may need probiotics.
- If you have skin issues and bloating.
- You are on antibiotics and need to maintain the gut microbiome
- You are constantly falling sick.
How do stomach acids react to probiotics?
Generally, the probiotics get destroyed in the digestive tract. Most probiotics perish when they come in contact with stomach acids. This is the reason probiotic supplements have vegetable shields which dissolve in stomach acids.
How long does it take for probiotics to work?
You will notice the benefits of probiotics on consuming the supplements for about 2 to 3 weeks. This is because it takes that much time for probiotics to restore the balance of the gut microbiome.