Probiotics are living microorganisms that you can consume in the form of fermented food items or supplements. There are many studies that show that the balance or imbalance of bacteria in the digestive system is associated with the overall health of the individual. Probiotics help in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria. They have also been linked to a vast range of health benefits. They help lose weight, improve digestive health, immune function and give a healthy, glowing skin.
Look at the 10 health benefits of probiotics that are natural and healthy:
Balances the Friendly Bacteria in the Digestive System-
Probiotics are rich in good bacteria. They are live microorganisms that can give health benefits. These benefits can form the ability of probiotics to restore the natural balance of gut bacteria. An imbalance in it means that there are too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. This can happen due to sickness, medication such as antibiotics, poor diet and more. Consequences can include digestive issues, allergies, mental health problems, obesity. Probiotics are commonly found in fermented food or are taken as supplements. You can restore the natural gut balance of the bacteria present in the gut if you take a sufficient amount of probiotics each day.
Prevents and Treats Diarrhea–
Probiotics can prevent diarrhea. A person suffering from diarrhea can also reduce the severity of the condition by regular intake of probiotics. Diarrhea generally occurs as a side effect of taking antibiotics, especially regularly. Diarrhea occurs as the antibiotics can badly interrupt the natural balance of good and bad gut bacteria. There are many studies that suggest that probiotic use gives many benefits such as a decreased risk of diarrhea because of antibiotics. It has been found out by researchers that the intake of probiotics reduces the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea straight by 42%. Intake of probiotics also helps prevent and treat other forms of diarrhea which are not associated with antibiotics. Probiotics also lower the risk of diarrhea by 57% in children and 26% in adults occurring due to various causes. The effectiveness of the use of probiotic varies, as per the type and dosage of the probiotic taken.
Treats and Improves Various Mental Health Conditions–
There is an increasing number of studies which link the gut health to the mood and mental health of an individual. There are many studies that prove that probiotic supplements have the tendency to improve some mental health conditions and disorders. Regular intake of healthy probiotic supplements can help improve anxiety, depression, autism, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and also sharpen memory. To better study the benefits of probiotics, a study was conducted on 40 patients suffering from depression. After taking probiotics regularly for 8 weeks, there was observed decreased depression levels and hormones such as insulin as compared to those who did not take any probiotics.
Keeps the Heart Healthy-
Probiotics help to keep the heart healthy by lowering the blood pressure and cholesterol level. There are various lactic acid-producing bacteria that can help in reducing the cholesterol level. Bile is a naturally occurring fluid and is mostly consists of cholesterol and helps in easy digestion. The probiotics lower the cholesterol level by effectively breaking down the bile. Probiotics help to prevent the bile from being reabsorbed by the gut as the cholesterol. As per various studies, consuming probiotic yogurt regularly, for 2–8 weeks, gradually reduces the overall cholesterol by 4%. In the same research, it was found that regular intake of probiotics increases the level of good cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.
Reducing the Severity of various Allergies and Eczema-
There are some probiotic strains that can help reduce the severity of skin disorders such as eczema among children and infants. There are various studies that state that eczema symptoms decrease and improve among infants who take probiotic-supplemented milk, in comparision to those infants who just consume milk, without any form of probiotics.
Probiotics Can Help in Reducing the Symptoms of Various Digestive Disorders–
A huge population suffers from various inflammatory bowel diseases, mainly including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Some types of probiotics which come from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains improve the symptoms of mild ulcerative colitis among people suffering from the condition. Probiotics have benefits for individuals suffering from various bowel disorders. Also, they may help reduce symptoms of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics Can Help to Boost the Immune System-
Probiotics can also help give the immune system a boost and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. They can also boost up the immune cells, T lymphocytes, and natural killer cells. A study found out that upon taking probiotic, the likelihood and duration of respiratory infections were reduced. A probiotic called Lactobacillus Crispatus is also known to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections or UTIs among women.
Probiotics for Weight Loss and Reducing Belly Fat-
Probiotics can help a person lose weight by a certain number of different mechanisms. Some probiotics can prevent the absorption of fat in the intestines. The fat is then excreted through the fecal matter rather than being stored as fat in the body. Probiotics can also help the stomach feel fuller for a long time, burn more calories than usual and also decreases the storage of fat.
Help in Nutrient Absorption-
Probiotics help to absorb beneficial nutrients from food and also help us to make certain vitamins such as vitamin B and vitamin K. Vitamin B helps in the growth of red blood cells, maintains energy levels, good eyesight, brain functioning, a healthy appetite and proper nerve functioning. Whereas, Vitamin K helps in blood clotting and bone metabolism.
Decrease Antibiotic Resistance-
Probiotics can also reduce the risk of certain infectious diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory tract infections. This contributes to better adherence to antibiotic medicines and thereby reduces the evolution of resistance. To what level it decreases the resistance is still a matter of research.
Types of Probiotics
The most commonly consumed probiotics are components of two main species:
Bifidobacteria: This species of bacteria is commonly used in foods and supplements. They are:
- Support the immune system
- Control the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestine
- Help in breaking down lactose to healthy nutrients for the body to use.
Lactobacillus: This species of bacteria produce lactase. Lactase is the enzyme that is responsible for breaking down lactose or milk sugar. These bacteria also are responsible for producing lactic acid in the body. Lactic acid helps to control the extent of bad bacteria in the body. It also serves as the muscle fuel and readily increases the ability of the human body to absorb the minerals. Lactobacillus bacteria are found naturally in the:
- Small intestine
Food Rich in Probiotic
It is better to consume probiotics naturally. There are a lot of food rich in probiotics. There are also artificial supplements available which you can consume as probiotic supplements. People of any age group can consume these probiotics. Even children can take moderate amount of probiotic in the form of natural foods each day.
For people who are new to probiotics, add them slowly to the diet. You can start by introducing a small number of probiotics in the diet. You can take them regularly for a few days. After taking it continuously in small amounts, you can increase the number of probiotics in your diet. Consult your doctor to check with the amount of probiotic you should take. Some common food items rich in probiotics are:
- Cottage Cheese
- Cold Potatoes