Taking probiotics has become buzzworthy in recent years. This has led to some mistrust amongst consumers who confuse probiotics with the latest miracle cure. However, probiotics have been around for a long time. Their benefits are scientifically proven.
Probiotics are the “good” bacteria in your body that help keep you healthy and strong. Here are six proven benefits of taking probiotics.
Help with Weight Management
Probiotics are ideal for women and men who are overweight or trying to manage their body weight better. Of course, probiotics are no replacement for a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet and exercise, but they can have positive impacts on their own.
Studies have shown that probiotics in obese, overweight, and ideal weight individuals have very different gut bacteria. Taking probiotics helps with digestion and helps your body block fat absorption, which can result in a shift in body fat percentage before diet and exercise are added to the mix. By taking probiotics, you’re giving the body what it needs to function as it should naturally when processed foods aren’t added to the mix.
In the studies where participants partook in similar exercise regimens and diet guidelines, with one group taking probiotics and the other taking a placebo, the women in the group with probiotics lost 50% more body fat than the women in the control group.
You’ve likely heard that you should avoid taking antibiotics unless you have a specific bacterial infection. This is because bacteria will become more resistant to the medication over time, which is how “superbugs” came to be.
Unfortunately, antibiotics can’t always differentiate between the bacteria in your body that’s making you sick and the bacteria that you need to be healthy. Thus, it wipes out the healthy bacteria in your gut that keeps things running smoothly. By taking probiotics, you re-introduce healthy bacteria into your body and get your digestive system and immune system back on track.
Boosts Your Immune System
You may have heard your gut referred to as your second brain. In recent years, a lot of focus has been directed to studying how your gut health interacts with the rest of your body, as it has its own nervous system – the Enteric Nervous System.
It surprises a lot of people to find out that their overall immune system is closely tied to what’s going on in their gut. Probiotics can help enhance immunity and reduce inflammation that can lead to other problems throughout the body. Of course, taking probiotics isn’t going to turn you into Superman. However, when paired with other health measures, it can help you fight off those pesky illnesses that all of your coworkers seem to bring to the office.
Helps with Women-specific Issues
Taking probiotics and making your gut healthy and happy should be of the highest priority for women. Not only can a healthy dose of bacteria reduce the likelihood of developing a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, but it can also offset the symptoms of PMS and menopause.
Probiotics can help both men and women balance their hormones, but for women specifically, this can impact fertility, mood disorders, skin problems, and so much more. There are also studies showing that probiotics can help offset osteoporosis, a bone density disorder that significantly impacts women as they age.
Assist with Nutrient Absorption
Probiotics help deflect fat absorption by breaking down foods more effectively so that the excess can be passed through the body more efficiently. It’s that same breakdown effect that helps the body absorb more micronutrients – the vitamins and minerals that keep everything working well. There are theories that this helps with skin quality, athletic performance, immune boosting, and all other overall areas of health.
To truly benefit from the nutrient absorption, it’s important to eat a diverse diet of minimally-processed foods. After all, it doesn’t matter if the nutrients can be absorbed if you aren’t putting them in your body in the first place. As fresh foods tend to be more bioavailable (easier broken down and absorbed) than vitamins and supplements, they must be prioritized to benefit from this important effect.
Improve Your Mood and Sleep Quality
Probiotics are thought to improve one’s sleep quality, as they regulate the digestive disturbances that can keep people up at night. Additionally, they can help improve your overall mood due to the fact that many of the hormones your body releases, such as endorphins, are regulated in the ENS. Together, the quality of sleep and overall mood create a positive cycle that makes for better nights and happier days.
Many of the benefits of taking probiotics overlap one another and enhance the effects of other areas. Thus, one could surmise that taking probiotics can help in numerous ways and create an overall holistic health effect.
Where to Get Probiotics
As previously mentioned, the best way to get probiotics is to incorporate them into your diet. Eating yogurt is a popular way to introduce good bacteria into one’s digestive tract on a regular basis. Eating fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha is another way to introduce probiotics to your diet and flavor to your food.
In addition to incorporating probiotics into one’s diet, many consumers choose to take a probiotic supplement. This is a great option for those who have limited access to diverse food sources or have particular tastes. Supplementation will also help you introduce a significant number of good bacteria in a relatively short amount of time.
Probiotics tend to be measured in Colony Forming Units (CFU) and can range anywhere from 1 billion CFU to 20 billion CFU. Most experts recommend introducing around 20 billion CFU for the best possible effects. There are different strains that could benefit you based on your health needs. For example, someone who has concerns about their weight may benefit from a different strain than someone with IBS. Have a conversation with your physician about which strain and what amount would be best suited for your lifestyle and medical history.
Taking probiotics may be the missing piece of the puzzle in helping you boost your immunity, manage your weight, and living a happy, healthy life.