Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut and help protect you from unhealthy microbes. When taken correctly, they help reduce bloating and abdominal pain, support healthy digestion, and aid in absorbing nutrients.
They also help repopulate the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract after conditions like antibiotics cause them to go down. But how exactly do they work?
Supports Healthy Digestion
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help support the health of your gut. Your body has naturally healthy bacteria, but if you have lost some due to illness or antibiotics, probiotics can help.
A healthy gut microbiome is essential for digestive issues like bloating, gas, and constipation. Probiotics can rebalance your GI tract and crowd out the harmful bacteria that cause symptoms.
The bacterium Lactobacillus, in particular, helps prevent pathogenic bacteria from attaching to the intestinal mucosa and inhibiting their growth. Some strains also reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms.
When shopping for probiotics, consider the number of CFU, which tells you how many bacterial cells are in each serving. You can find this on the product packaging. However, more is sometimes better, as some strains work best at lower dosages. In addition, it’s essential to look at the specific species of bacteria included in the formula and the delivery method. For example, you may want a time-release tablet or capsule that can bypass the stomach acid to reach your intestines.
Supports Healthy Immune System
Trillions of bacteria live inside your body, and many work to keep you healthy. But some bacteria, such as those growing in your digestive tract, can cause gastrointestinal discomforts like bloating and diarrhea. Probiotics help replace these “good” bacteria after you take antibiotics and promote digestive health.
While most people think of probiotics as beneficial for the digestive system, they have also been shown to benefit the rest of your immune system. Probiotic bacteria have been found to increase the absorption of specific vitamins and minerals, such as B complex vitamins and Vitamin K, and they may prevent gastrointestinal tract infections by competing with pathogens for attachment sites in the intestinal mucosa.
You can get probiotics that our bodies need from various foods, including yogurt with live and active cultures, fermented dairy products like kefir and buttermilk, miso and tempeh, kimchi, pickles, cured meats, and some wines and vinegar. Supplements are also available. But when choosing a supplement, it’s essential to look for third-party testing to ensure the product is safe and effective.
Supports Healthy Skin
Aside from improving gut health, probiotics can promote healthy skin. This is because they help balance the microbiome on the surface of your skin, which serves as a protective barrier against pathogenic invasion and subdues inflammation.
They also boost the production of peptides, collagen, and ceramides to keep your skin youthful and radiant. In addition, certain strains of probiotic bacteria have been shown to improve skin elasticity, which can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, consider the CFU (colony-forming units) it contains and how many different strains are contained in the product. “Depending on the strain, 0.5 billion CFU could be enough, while others may require up to 450 billion.” remember that “more is not always better,” a clinical pharmacist and author of the book Clinical Guide to Probiotics.
Lastly, ensure the probiotic you choose has third-party testing verifying its potency and effectiveness. This is especially important for unregulated dietary supplements. In addition, it’s best to stick to oral probiotics if you have a compromised digestive system or are taking antibiotics.
Supports Healthy Bones
Researchers have found that probiotics, which help digest food and provide many health benefits, are also helpful for healthy bones. Studies have shown that certain probiotics may improve bone density and protect against osteoporosis.
These bacteria are well known for their gastrointestinal benefits, such as treating diarrhea and reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). But they’re also known to help with mental health and even reduce anxiety.
Good sources of probiotics include unprocessed, refrigerated fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. But it’s important to note that pasteurization and vinegar kill the live probiotic bacteria in these foods. So, choose these fermented foods only when they are unpasteurized.
This shelf-stable probiotic is a great option, which contains a mix of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium longum strains. You can find this supplement in various forms, including capsules, gummies, and powders. Taking this probiotic daily with a meal and any other accessories you may be taking is recommended.
Supports Healthy Weight
The bacteria in your gut, known as your gut microbiome, is essential. It directly impacts your mood, digestion, and immune system. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help balance the microbiome and promote overall gut health. Probiotics are found in fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, and can also be seen as supplements.
A 2019 study showed that certain probiotics may help reduce obesity by suppressing appetite and boosting fat burning. This was because probiotics helped increase the amount of peptide , which helps suppress hunger and stimulate fat burning. In addition, some probiotics are thought to limit the absorption of dietary fat, so more is excreted in the stool.
When selecting a probiotic, choosing one targeted for your digestive issue is best. This can help ensure the probiotics make it through your stomach acid and into the large intestine. It is also good to consider how and when you will take your probiotics. It is easier to bring yours with a meal or at a particular time of day, like first thing in the morning or before bed.