So Why Exactly Do We Need Probiotics?
While packing your gut with live bacteria may sound abhorring after that first squirmy imagery, would you believe me if I said that by the end of this read, you’ll smile at the thought of making said imagery a reality?
Yes- voluntarily swallowing bacteria and allowing it to set up camp in your gut is worth all the critter-phobia in the world.
Here’s why (and also, the critter thing is not that bad):
A Healthy Gut Means a Healthy Body
Probiotics impact your body at the gut level- literally and figuratively.
We have more bacteria in our gut than cells in our entire body, which means that their quality has an astounding impact on our overall health.
Probiotics essentially improve the quality of gut bacteria- a very simple concept, yet highly overlooked when we think about overall health maintenance.
Research shows that a building a strong foundation for optimal health can be achieved by supplementing with probiotics.
The main benefit of taking probiotics is restoration and repair of the digestive system. However, probiotic supplements are also known to boost the immune system, aid in weight management, treat skin conditions, and even manage mental health symptoms such as depression and social anxiety.
Billions of bacteria classified into over a thousand different types inhabit our gut. The sole purpose of these bacteria is to aid in digestion by breaking down our meals into absorbable nutrients.
The task seems easy enough, but modern toxins, overly processed foods, daily stress, and antibiotics can deplete and/or damage bacteria, harming the digestive process along the way.
Probiotics efficiently repopulate the gut, enabling it to perform optimally and restore balance to the digestive system; one of the first benefits people experience are usually of the digestive sort, such as relief from bloating or constipation and treatment of diarrhea and lactose intolerance.
Good bye to intestinal disease and awkward digestion noises!
The relationship between probiotics and the immune system is still being researched, however prior studies have shown that consumption of probiotics increases the production of lymphocytes (these are the cells implicated in the immune response).
While the increase in lymphocytes is not caused directly by the consumption of probiotics, the efficiency of the digestive system is directly tied to the quality of the immune system.
Proper digestion allows for absorption of micronutrients, the deficiency of which can cause a weakened immune system. It’s all about the fine-tuning.
Various studies support the probiotic treatment of certain inflammatory skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and rosacea.
More than being a reflection of what we eat, our skin reflects how well we digest what we eat.
Inflammation and redness are symptoms of poor digestion, one of the immune system’s defense mechanisms. The trigger here are toxins that are leaked into the bloodstream by a weak gut lining.
Probiotics treat skin conditions by strengthening the gut lining, maximizing nutrient absorption, and balancing digestive functions.
Research shows that obese individuals have different gut flora than those within a healthy weight range, which points to billions of microscopical culprits.
We are supposed to have a bacteria-filled gut, but a poor diet and lack of exercise, in addition to being the main instruments in obesity, also lead to poor digestive health and an overpopulation of “bad” bacteria.
By balancing gut flora and improving gastrointestinal health, probiotics can aid in better absorption of nutrients and a faster metabolism.
Lean individuals have a better quality of gut flora- this says a lot about what probiotics can do for someone on a weight management program.
There is now speculation that probiotics may also decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression, opening the suggestion that mental health is somehow related to gastrointestinal balance.
So are probiotics hype or super-supplements? It takes about two weeks to repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria, so go get yourself some probiotics and do some friendly self-testing. One thing is for certain: probiotics do not cause any harmful side effects.
Look at probiotics as a body hack; they have the cumulative benefit of maximizing your body’s own capacity to protect and heal itself.
- “How to Boost Your Immune System – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system>.
- Mallappa, Rashmi, Namita Rokana, Raj Duary, Harsh Panwar, Virender Batish, and Sunita Grover. “Management of Metabolic Syndrome through Probiotic and Prebiotic Interventions.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263193/>.
- Bested, Alison C., Alan C. Logan, and Eva M. Selhub. “Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part II-contemporary contextual research.” Gut Pathog 5.3 (2013): 1-14. <http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1757-4749-5-3.pdf>
- Delzenne, Nathalie M., et al. “Targeting gut microbiota in obesity: effects of prebiotics and probiotics.” Nature Reviews Endocrinology 7.11 (2011): 639-646. <http://www.ucllouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/ir-ldri/images/DelzenneNatRevEndocrinol2011.pdf>