Probiotics is the name given to the collective of 'good' bacteria found predominantly in fermented and cultured foods, such as yoghurt, kimchi kefir, etc.
All Bacteria are often seen as bad because they are the cause of many illnesses, but probiotics are healthy/friendly bacteria’s that help the body carry out many tasks.
Probiotics are used by the body to aid in digestion, help the immune system fight off bad bacteria and balance trillions of naturally occurring bacteria that are present in the guts of everyone.
Probiotics have many benefits, here are 6 of the best!:
Probiotics and The Immune System.
One of the most useful Probiotics benefits is that they can help to prevent the growth and spreading of harmful bacteria in the gut. Harmful bacteria can lead to many illnesses that can significantly harm the immune system.
Some probiotics have also been shown to increase the production of natural antibodies that fight off harmful bacteria/viruses as well.
What is the immune system?
The immune system is essentially the bodies personal defense team. The immune system is there to protect us from sickness, disease and viruses. Without it, we would be wide open to attack.
The vast network that is the 'immune system' is always on the lookout for dangerous and harmful foreign bodies, when one is spotted, a cleaver and swiftly executed attack is carried out to avoid further contamination.
If contamination does happen, the body goes into somewhat of a survival mode, putting all of its energy towards fighting off the sickness. We feel this 'fighting' as symptoms, such as swollen glands or fever.
Keeping the immune system healthy.
Multiple factors contribute to a healthy immune system. Plenty of exercise, a well-balanced diet and maintaining good overall hygiene.
The use of probiotics supports the immune system by giving it regular a helping hand. probiotics fight off and suppress bad bacteria in the gut, so that the immune system can focus attention elsewhere.
Due to probiotics positive effect on the gut, including the promotion of healthy bacteria and flora, probiotics have also been found to aid in the digestive process.
Probiotics are thought to be able to improve symptoms of:
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Lactose intolerance.
- Stomach ulcers
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic constipation
The reason why probiotics can help these conditions is not conclusive, however, there are some facts that most definitely have a part to play.
- Probiotics lower the PH in the intestines, resulting in the quicker passing of stools through the colon.
- Probiotics replace the good bacteria that the use of antibiotics can wipe out. Restoring gut health after taking medications.
- Some probiotics help in the synthesis of proteins. They do this by helping the body to absorb amino acids, promoting recovery throughout the entire body.
- The way that probiotics ease the digestion tract reduces inflammation, which can lead to constipation and abdominal discomfort.
Helps Prolong Health.
Probiotics can help you live well for longer as it reduces stress on both the body and the mind.
As probiotics fight off bad bacteria in the gut, the immune system can be more efficient elsewhere. there are many studies to suggest that those who succumb to low-level illnesses regularly, such as the common cold, generally have a lower quality of life and a shorter lifespan than those who don't.
Having chronic digestion issues can also put strain on one's mental wellbeing due to the level of stress that they can cause.
Positive Mental Health.
Whilst probiotics are usually taken to aid gut health, in recent years there have been many studies to suggest that probiotics may ease the symptoms of many mental health conditions.
The gut is probably not the first place you think of when considering the treatment of mental health, but there has been plenty of positive research that suggests that there is a direct link between gut health and mental health.
Taking probiotics regularly, and improving the microbiome the gut has shown to improve symptoms in those suffering from anxiety, OCD, depression and bipolar disease.
There has even been some evidence to suggest that probiotics could be used to ease the symptoms in sufferers of autism.
Definitive, conclusive research is still in its early stages; although, it has been known for some time now that the bacteria held within the intestines produce neurochemicals, including serotonin, melatonin, and acetylcholine. All of which have a huge effect on mood and mental wellbeing.
The theory is, that the more healthy bacteria in the gut, the more favourable the environment is to produce these chemicals.
Can Aid Weight Loss.
Having a healthy digestion system is crucial for the overall functionality and well-being of the body. It is through digestion that we process calories and make nutrients available to the body. If the digestive system is not in good working order, the metabolism will suffer.
When the body is working at its best and the digestive system is in top condition, nutrients are absorbed by the body efficiently and effectively.
The better the body is as absorbing nutrients, the less calories the body will have to consume to acquire them.
Eating a healthy diet (full of probiotic foods) exercising regularly, drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest is the best practice for health, sustainable weight loss.
probiotics are also though to reduce sugar cravings.
Probiotics And Allergies
There have been many studies to suggest that some (but not all) probiotics can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies, including hayfever.
Hayfever is the result of pollen from flowers, grasses, trees and plants being inhaled/ingested by the body, entering the bloodstream and being mistaken as something harmful.
Nothing is perfect, not even the immune system, so it can occasionally mistake harmless substances such as pollen as dangerous viruses.
How do probiotics help?
Due to the positive effect probiotics have on the immune system, they can similarly reduce the symptoms and severity of some allergies. This is because when the immune system is able to work at its best, it can differentiate between high risk and low-risk foreign bodies far better.
Many studies support the theory that probiotics can reduce the symptoms of allergies, although, further research is needed to formulate probiotic medications specifically for that purpose.
Are there any Risks Associated with Probiotics?
As a whole, the health benefits far outweigh any potential negative side effects of natural probiotics. Generally, all probiotics are perfectly safe for consumption, and it would near impossible to consume too much of them.
Some people may find that the initial use of probiotics can cause gas and diarrhea; however, these side-effects should subside rather promptly and be not too much cause for concern.
How to Benefit most from Probiotics.
Probiotics come in both natural and supplementary forms and I would always recommend opting for natural sources over others.
Supplementary probiotics are a good alternative to natural ones when they are not available, however, they can be very expensive.
To benefit most from probiotics, the best practice is to consume them often, in plentiful quantities. It is also advised to see the best results you must consume probiotics consistently over an extended period.
It takes time to balance bacteria levels in the gut, improve the immune system and enjoy the benefits of probiotics – A single serving of culture yoghurt, unfortunately, will not sort out any health issues.
Eat probiotics regularly to benefit most from their health-boosting properties.
A note to leave with.
Probiotics are a gift from nature to the gut. Not only do they provide improvements to the digestive system, but they can also help sufferers of mental health issues see improvements in their symptoms.
Probiotics are easily added to the diet naturally through cultured and fermented foods, such as yoghurt and sauerkraut. These probiotics can also reduce sugar cravings, potentially leading to weight loss.
It is best to ease into the regular use of probiotics, to avoid any mild side effects. Once your system is accustomed to the additional good bacteria, it is advised that probiotics are consumed often and plentiful – this will allow you to benefit the most from their health-boosting properties.