Your digestive system is full of bacteria, both beneficial and bad. If the balance is off, your health can suffer because 80% of your immune system is in your digestive tract. Probiotics are the key to beneficial bacteria…and surprising health benefits. Here are ten ways probiotics can change your life.[/nextpage] [nextpage]
Research shows that problems in your gut can negatively impact your mental health and lead to depression or anxiety. The reason could be because of the vast number of neurons, normally associated with the brain, that reside in your gut! These include the cells that produce serotonin. The greatest concentration of this mood-controlling serotonin is in your intestines! That makes the gut-brain connection regarding mood a two-way street. Preliminary research indicates that consuming probiotics may reduce negative thoughts associated with being in a sad mood. One study found that people who took probiotics for 30 days experienced lower levels of psychological distress.
A study on 210 people with belly fat discovered that taking Lactobacillus gasseri (L. gasseri) for 12 weeks had several positive effects. It reduced belly fat by 8.5%, body weight, fat around organs, BMI, waist size and hip circumference. You can get this powerful probiotic if you eat fermented foods like kefir (fermented milk), sauerkraut, kimchi, lassi, natto, miso, and tempeh or organic yogurt that says “live active cultures” on the package. It’s also available as a supplement.
If you have trouble falling asleep, or worse, suffer from insomnia, your solution might be as simple as probiotics. Not only is serotonin prevalent in the gut, melatonin is too. In fact, serotonin is needed to make melatonin—a neurotransmitter, or messenger via the nerve network, that is also known as the sleep regulating hormone. If you add a multi-strain probiotic to your day, you could boost the production of these helpful hormones which could add peaceful sleep to your nights.
Can probiotics even lower your stress levels? It seems so. In a study that followed a group of men who took probiotic capsules each day for one month, researchers noted that the men felt less stress after the 30-day period. This is good news because stress can lead to or worsen headaches, heart disease, depression and even asthma. One possible reason probiotics can help reduce stress is they lower the hormone corticosterone. A decrease in this stress-induced hormone reduces anxiety…as well as depression-related behavior. Another study found that students who ate yogurt, pickles and sauerkraut—foods high in probiotics—reported feeling less social anxiety and neuroticism.
Scientists have found that probiotics are an effective, natural means of fighting gum disease, plaque and bad breath. Probiotics are also more cost effective than dental treatments to solve these problems. Research around the world has shown that a probiotic can reduce bleeding gums due to gingivitis. Another study saw plaque decrease by a whopping 20% because of a probiotic mouth rinse. Other studies found that probiotics help bad breath by inhibiting the bacteria that causes it. Not only that, probiotics can even whiten your teeth by releasing a continuous low dose of hydrogen peroxide. Talk to your dentist about which probiotics will work best for your mouth.
The same study that showed men who used probiotics for one month felt less stressed also showed that they performed better on memory tests. It was, however, one study and a small one at that. Although, animal studies achieved similar results. In 2014, British researcher John Cryan said, “We have unpublished data showing that probiotics can enhance learning in animal models,” he told BBC Future. One potential explanation for how probiotics could help memory is because certain bacteria can stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that supports memory and learning by enabling the formation of new neural connections.
If you are always tired, “leaky gut” could be the cause. Leaky gut is the term used to describe the condition where gaps form between cells in your intestinal wall, allowing unwanted bacteria, proteins and other compounds to escape. They are toxins, and fatigue is caused, in part, by your body producing high levels of immune cells to fight these toxins. Leaky gut also causes an increase cytokins, inflammatory compounds, that are directly associated with fatigue. Probiotics can help replenish good bacteria in your gut that will keep harmful bacteria under control and reduce inflammation, reversing leaky gut and stopping your fatigue. Check with your doctor about which probiotic will work best for your condition.
Bloating is the feeling of fullness, tightness, or swelling in the abdomen that might also cause you to experience pain or expel embarrasing gas. Gas, due to a specific bacteria in the intestinal tract, is the usual cause of bloating, and a probiotic that battles that bacteria may help eliminate the problem. A 2009 study showed this. Probiotics also help restore the bacterial balance between good and evil. Of course, as with all probiotics, you have to find the one that works for your system. Gastroenterologist, Sita Chokhavatia, recommends giving a probiotic a two-week trial to see if it helps.
Healthy bacteria train your body to distinguish between good and bad bacteria as well as toxins. This helps prevent your immune system from overreacting to non-harmful antigens which is the beginning of allergies. Speaking of beginnings, an analysis of clinical trials showed that women who took probiotics during pregnancy reduced their child’s risk of developing allergies. Then there’s “leaky gut.” Remember this from #7? It occurs when toxins escape through the intestine’s walls due to gaps between cells in the walls. Leaky gut can be a contributing factor to allergies. You can boost your guts’ healthy bacteria and correct this by avoiding processed foods (and possibly grains) and getting probiotics, either in foods or in supplements.
IBS is irritable bowel syndrome. It is one of the most common intestinal issues and also one of the most difficult to treat. There is no one “cure-all;” however, many experts agree that probiotics can have a hugely helpful hand in alleviating some, but not always all, of the symptoms. The probiotic, Bifidobacterium infantis, has shown to alleviate symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and irregularity. And multispecies probiotics have shown to alleviate abdominal pain and discomfort as well as bloating. If you suffer from IBS and want to try a probiotic to relieve your symptoms, talk to your doctor about which strain might work best.