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Probiotics are the key to keeping the peace and pushing out the harmful organisms that throw everything off.

Probiotics detox, digest fiber, produce B vitamins, and help balance the gut. Probiotics from supplements and fermented foods help establish a healthy microbiome with a diverse microbiota—sometimes referred to as microflora. When your body is colonized by health-promoting organisms, your physical, mental, and emotional well-being are supercharged. You can take your health to new heights, giving yourself incredible immune function, mental clarity, and superior digestion. For many, the chain reaction of health benefits keeps the whole body healthy and decreases the possibility of developing a slew of health, digestive, and mood-related difficulties.

Probiotic Quick Facts:

What Are They: Living, beneficial bacteria and yeasts.

Main Benefit: Gut health.

Food Sources: Yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi.

Top Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics have many well-established health benefits, including the ability to balance the gut, improve digestion, and alleviate the uncomfortable side-effects of harsh antibiotics. The top benefits of probiotics include:

  • Enhanced immune system response
  • Balancing out the adverse effects of antibiotics, including occasional diarrhea
  • Calmed colon irritation following surgery
  • Healthier looking skin and improved complexion
  • Enhanced ability to digest food
  • Therapeutic effects for upper respiratory health
  • Improved lactose tolerance
  • Promotes healthy yeast balance.
  • Support for vaginal health
  • Increased nutrient absorption from food
  • Encourages normal digestive health, including promoting normal bowel movements.
  • Promotes oral health and acts as a remedy for bad breath (halitosis)
  • Increased ability to synthesize B vitamins
  • Heightened ability to absorb calcium
  • Supports vitamin K production
 

Probiotic Research

It’s with regularity that researchers publish new and exciting discoveries about the benefits of probiotics. Here are some of the most exciting recent findings for how probiotics can support your health.

  • Studies show that probiotics improve the bioavailability of many essential nutrients in the body such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, all of the B vitamins, calcium, copper, and magnesium.
  • A study on the probiotic strain Bacillus infantis showed significant potential for normalizing bowel function in patients with digestive discomfort.
  • Probiotics significantly lower the rate of diarrhea and diaper rash in babies’ consuming infant probiotics.
  • Active bacteria cultures, such as acidophilus, aid in reducing intolerance to the lactose found in dairy products.
  • Several studies on probiotics indicate that, through the process of regulating intestinal transit time of fecal matter, probiotics can dramatically reduce constipation in the elderly.
  • Other reports suggest that some forms of probiotics, promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, significantly lowering bile conversion in the colon into carcinogenic compounds.
  • One study found probiotics inhibited the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Many studies show a link between mental health and probiotics.
  • Many powerful neurotransmitters, including serotonin, are produced in a healthy gut with thriving probiotic colonies.
  • Some studies demonstrate that probiotics enhance overall immunity through a process of regulating proteins and antibodies in the body.
  • Probiotics may promote heart health.

Who Should Take Probiotics?

The truth is nearly everyone could benefit from probiotics. However, people who are exposed to a toxic environment, eat processed foods, or suffer from high-stress levels will likely see the greatest impact on their health. Likewise, antibiotics can severely disrupt existing beneficial bacteria in your digestive system and gut. Anyone taking a strong antibiotic should consider supplementing with probiotics to help re-establish a balanced gut flora. Other common factors that disrupt gut health include frequent fevers, colds, and candida overgrowth.

Signs You May Need Probiotics

When there is a disruption in your gut bacteria by harmful organisms, there are many recognizable signs. Often, people report fatigue, mood swings, acne, and digestive symptoms like bloating and constipation. If you are experiencing any of these side effects, you may benefit from taking probiotics.

What Are Probiotics?

Simply put, probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts. The fundamental difference separating a probiotic from another form of bacteria that is pathogenic or harmful are their symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationship with your body. Whether they know it or not, any healthy person is already carrying around hundreds of probiotics in their digestive system, on their skin, in their mouth, and other orifices like nostrils. The gastrointestinal tract alone harbors more than 500 different bacterial species.

History of Probiotics

Probiotics are found in many foods and animals the world over. However, being able to isolate them and understand their ability to influence your health is a much more recent. The idea of probiotics was first put forth in the 20th century by Nobel laureate, Elie Metchnikoff.[28] Before he started telling people to eat microorganisms, people focused on eliminating them. Even with Metchnikoff’s groundbreaking work, it was not until the 1980s that probiotics entered the public consciousness. Today, more than any other time in history, people are aware of the benefits of probiotics which are why you hear more about them in the news, at the grocery store, and even in your doctor’s office.

 

How Probiotics Work

There are several ways probiotics work to support your health. By outcompeting the bad bacteria for food and resources, they help protect your body against harmful organisms and undesirable bacteria species from establishing stable colonies. Some probiotic strains influence pH levels inside the gut, which helps create a favorable digestive environment. Others help metabolize certain foods that would otherwise go undigested or be poorly digested. By breaking down these foods thoroughly and into more bioavailable forms, your body can better absorb vitamins and nutrients that may otherwise go unused. All of these interrelated factors promote a balanced microbiome which in turn can stimulate immune responses and contribute to maintaining better overall physical and mental health.

Common Probiotic Strains

As the investigation into probiotics continues, researchers are better able to identify different organisms and their potential benefits. Still, the scientific names, with their genus and species, are rarely used beyond an ingredient label or textbook. Instead, the term probiotics is applied equally to all beneficial strains. However, you’ll hear about these two major groupings or genuses most frequently: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.

Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus strains are a significant part of a healthy person’s microbiota. Species in this grouping all create lactic acid by metabolizing sugars in the body. This increased acidity creates an unfriendly environment to harmful organisms and helps cleanse and detox the digestive system of toxins and waste.[31]Cultured or fermented foods like yogurt, pickles, beer, and sourdough bread use Lactobacillus species and strains as part of the production process. On supplement and food labels, Lactobacillus forms are often abbreviated with an L., followed by the species name.

Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacterium are found in the mouth, throughout the digestive tract, and make up the largest proportion of the bacterial flora in the colon. Bifidobacterium species and strains play a vital role in breaking down and utilizing carbohydrates. Some foods that contain Bifidobacterium include infant formulas, kimchi, and certain kinds of cheese. Similar to LactobacillusBifidobacterium can be abbreviated with a B. on ingredient or nutrition labels.