Probiotics and Gut Health
PROBIOTICS: I HAVE A GUT FEELING YOU NEED TO READ THIS
Your body is full of bacteria. Yes, bacteria but please don’t panic. Did you know that most bacteria are quite harmless? The right bacteria has been linked to numerous health benefits such as improved digestion, weight loss, better skin, enhanced immune function, and a reduced risk of many diseases. Where is this bacteria in your body? Most of them reside in your gut. The bacteria in your body out number your body’s cells 10 to 1, so I’d say they might be quite important. In fact, taking care of your gut, and the friendly bacteria that live there, might be one of the single most important things you can do for your health.
So where do we go from here? Probiotics. Probiotics are found in supplements and foods prepared by bacterial fermentation (such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh) and are live microorganisms that help colonize our guts with health-boosting microorganisms.
Probiotics are quite new in research but studies are rapidly expanding. The evidence has shown that different probiotics seem to work for different health conditions. Choosing the right type (or types) of probiotic is essential for each individual. Probiotic supplements are considered safe and the only side effect might be a few days of bloating when first starting.
TAKE AWAY: Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed correctly. There are many different types of probiotics, and you can get them from foods or supplements.
No, there are no beautiful flowers beginning to bloom in your gut. However, you do have hundreds of different types of microorganisms enjoying your gut such as bacteria, yeast, and viruses. Most of these microorganisms, known as your gut flora, are found in your colon, or the large intestine.
The gut flora perform a plethora of functions such as manufacturing vitamins, stimulating the immune system, regulate the integrity of the gut and turning fibers into short-chain fatty acids which helps perform many metabolic functions.
It is important to keep your gut flora balanced as an unbalanced gut flora is linked to diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and colorectal cancer.
TAKE AWAY: Your gut flora consists of hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Probiotics help your gut flora perform at its best.
PROBIOTICS AND YOUR DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Have you ever taken an antibiotic? Yes, you have. After you take probiotics, especially for a long period of time, most people suffer from diarrhea. The antibiotics may end the infection but they also kill many of the natural bacteria in the gut, this allows “bad” bacteria to thrive.
Studies has shown that probiotic supplements can help cure the antibiotic-associate diarrhea as well being helpful with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) reducing bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Studies have shown to be useful against H. Pylori infections which can contribute to ulcers and stomach cancers. Do you have a digestive problem that won’t go away? Try a probiotic supplement, it might be your answer.
TAKE AWAY: Probiotics have been shown to be effective against various digestive problems.
PROBIOTICS AND WEIGHT LOSS
The bacteria in your gut as an obese individual will be different from those of lean people. Sounds unfair, right? Although it needs to be studied a lot more, some probiotic strains have been shown to help with fat loss.
In 2013 a study was published showing that over a 12 week period, people with lots of belly fat lost 8.5% of their belly fat mass by taking the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri. Interestingly, when they stopped taking the probiotic, they gained the belly fat back within 4 weeks.
However, this needs to be studied more before any recommendations can be made as some animal studies show that some probiotic strains could lead to weight gain, not loss.
TAKE AWAY: There is some evidence that the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri can help people lose belly fat.
PROBIOTICS AND HEALTH BENEFITS
To list all of the benefits of probiotics a book would be much easier than a blog. However, there are some that are worthy of being highlighted, although this is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Inflammation: reduce systemic inflammation, a leading cause of many diseases
- Depression and anxiety: reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with clinical depression
- Blood cholesterol: lower total and LDL cholesterol levels
- Blood pressure: modest reductions in blood pressure
- Immune function: enhance immune function and lead to reduced risk of infections
- Skin health: useful for acne, rosacea and eczema, as well as other skin disorders
TAKE AWAY: Probiotics have been shown to have numerous health benefits.