Taking Probiotics? Here’s The Lowdown On Their Powerful Benefits
Probiotics are microorganisms that can be derived from fermented foods like yoghurt, pickles, etc. They maintain the balance between the good and the bad bacteria in your gut which benefits overall health. An overview of the benefits of probiotics is given below which include promoting weight loss, gut health, boosting the immune system etc.
What are the health benefits of probiotics?
One of the main health benefits of probiotics is maintaining the balance between the good and the bad bacteria in the digestive system. Besides this, there are several other benefits of probiotics as mentioned below.
- Helps in treating as well as preventing diarrhoea.
- Benefits some mental health conditions.
- Some probiotic strains promote heart health
- Minimises the chronicity of certain allergies and eczema
- Benefits in treating digestive disorders
- Boosts the functioning of the immune system
- Helps in clearing urinary tract infections
- Helps in weight loss and especially belly fat.
- Helps in controlling blood pressure levels
- Helps in maintaining vaginal health and fertility in women.
- Takes care of mood swings in women during menopause.
- Improves sleep quality
- Consumption of antibiotics can disrupt the balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut and one of the outcomes will be diarrhoea. Studies have seen the benefits of probiotics in arresting antibiotics-related diarrhoea. Probiotics also help in reducing the risk of diarrhoea not linked to antibiotics as well. The probiotic strains that help in reducing the risk of diarrhoea are Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii.
- Mental health and mood swings are apparently linked to gut health. Since one of the main health benefits of probiotics is to maintain gut health, consumption of probiotics in the form of yeast, curds, etc or supplements, reduces the symptoms of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, stress, memory, etc.
- Probiotics help in reducing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. This leads to improved heart health. By dissolving bile in the gut, certain lactic acid-producing bacteria may lower cholesterol. Digestion is aided by bile, a naturally occurring fluid primarily composed of cholesterol. Probiotics can stop bile from being reabsorbed in the gut and entering the bloodstream as cholesterol by breaking down bile. Studies have revealed that consuming probiotic yoghurt for 2 to 8 weeks decreased total cholesterol by 4% and LDL cholesterol by 5%.
- Some probiotic strains seem to lessen the severity of infants' and children's eczema. According to some research, infants who drank milk with probiotic supplements experienced less severe eczema symptoms than those who drank milk without probiotics. Another study monitored the offspring of pregnant women who consumed probiotics. In the first two years of life, those kids had an 83% lower risk of developing eczema.
- The benefits of probiotics include treating some digestive disorders. Some strains of probiotics like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus reduce the symptoms of mild ulcerative colitis. Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the digestive disorders to which women are more prone than men. So, the benefits of probiotics for women are most important to treat this disorder.
- The health benefits of probiotics for the proper functioning of your immune system are crucial as it prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. Some strains of probiotics encourage the production of natural antibodies. They also increase the immune system components like natural killer cells, T lymphocytes, and IgA-producing cells.
- The benefits of probiotics for women are crucial to clear urinary tract infections as they are more prone to infection owing to the proximity between the vaginal opening and the anus. The chances of cross-contaminating the vagina with E-coli bacteria from the rectum are higher due to the proximity. An effective probiotic suppository can help clear the infection and rebalance the microbiome of the vaginal area. It may be particularly beneficial after taking antibiotics, which often lead to microbial imbalances in our bodies.
- Probiotics help in weight loss in different ways. Some strains of probiotics inhibit the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine. The fat is then excreted rather than stored in the body. Probiotics also make you feel satiated for longer periods and help burn more calories. This is due to the increased levels of hormones such as GLP-1. Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain helps in reducing overall weight whereas Lactobacillus gasseri helps in reducing belly fat.
- Controlling blood pressure levels is among the benefits of probiotics. Consumption of milk fermented with Lactobacillus strains helps in lowering blood pressure levels. Probiotics increase Vitamin D levels which help in regulating blood pressure levels.
- The benefits of probiotics for women are derived from some strains of Lactobacilli which is found in most probiotic foods. They are beneficial in treating and preventing vaginal infections. Vaginal infections can lead to pelvic inflammatory diseases and complications in pregnancy. A healthy vaginal biome is important for a healthy pregnancy and the health of the infant.
- Mood swings are a common syndrome in women during menopause due to hormonal changes. Studies have shown a link between gut health and mental health. An imbalanced gut microbiome can cause mood issues. This is because our gut bacteria can imitate hormones released by our bodies and communicate with our brains through the vagus nerve, making them essential in mood monitoring. The name given to this connection is the gut-brain axis.
- Sleep quality can be disrupted in women during menopause. One of the most important benefits of probiotics for women is regulating their sleep patterns. Studies have shown that microorganisms that thrive when the body is sleep-deprived can also disrupt our circadian rhythms. By creating effective competition, a diverse gut microbiome can prevent the overgrowth of these microorganisms that impact the sleep pattern.
What’s the best way to derive the benefits of probiotics?
The natural way of deriving the benefits of probiotics is through food sources. Fermented foods like tempeh, pickled vegetables, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and soy products are some of the readily available food sources. Yoghurt and milk drinks are also good sources of probiotics.
If you are unable to derive probiotics through food sources you can also consume probiotic supplements that are available in the form of tablets, capsules, and powder.
What are the side effects of probiotics?
Probiotics are generally safe to consume. There are rarely any side effects. However, for people with a weakened immune system or other medical conditions, there is a certain level of risk involved in the form of infections, the release of harmful substances in the body, and resistance to antibiotics.
The benefits of probiotics are innumerable. They are necessary for gut health which is crucial for the overall health of the body. Probiotics can be derived from various food sources as well as by including probiotic supplements in your diet. However, it is recommended to consult your doctor before using probiotic supplements or increasing the consumption of probiotics as a precautionary measure.
Is it safe to take probiotics daily?
The general concern is whether it is safe to consume probiotics daily. With some exceptions, it is generally safe to take probiotic supplements daily. In fact, the dosage is recommended on a daily basis. Probiotics are not medication but only natural supplements.
How to decide if probiotics are required?
If you experience any of these conditions, it is an indication that you need probiotics.
- Food poisoning
- Mood disorders
- You are on antibiotics
- Falling sick frequently.
- Skin conditions like psoriasis and acne
- Allergies and asthma
- You have allergies and asthma.
When should probiotics be taken?
The ideal time to take probiotics is just before bedtime because the gut is less active at night.
How to know the effectiveness of probiotics?
If your bowel movements have improved and you no longer experience constipation or diarrhoea, your skin is healthy and glowing, and you are full of energy, it means probiotics supplements are working for you and your gut health is improving.
How to store probiotic supplements?
It is recommended to refrigerate probiotic supplements as many probiotic bacteria are sensitive to heat and moisture. It should necessarily be kept out of humidity.