Your body has its ecosystem of microorganisms. Keeping these microbes in balance is vital to maintaining health.
Many harmful bacteria enter your body when you get sick, throwing off this balance. Probiotics can help restore this balance and keep your immune system functioning correctly.
Probiotics help restore a natural balance of the microbiota (the organisms living in your digestive tract) after infection, illness, improper diet, or antibiotic medications. They also improve bowel function, including absorbing essential vitamins and minerals.
In addition, they help normalize the gastrointestinal tract’s immune response. This can reduce your risk of GI disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis, and may reduce symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea associated with antibiotics.
Various benefits of probiotics are available to address different health concerns. Still, a few of the most common include Bifidobacterium infantis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus for weight loss and constipation relief and Saccharomyces boulardii for traveler’s diarrhea. Taking them along with a healthy diet is recommended for maximum benefit.
Improved Immune System
Probiotics interact with innate immune cells to boost their function and help the body fight off disease. These cells are “hard-wired” to respond to particular molecular warning signals.
The beneficial microorganisms in our gut repress the growth of pathogens and produce antibacterial molecules. This helps maintain intestinal microorganism equilibrium and regulates the immune system, ultimately boosting the host’s health.
Probiotics can also increase the number of immunoglobulin A+ cells and activate macrophages and dendritic cells, contributing to the innate immune response. They also reinforce the intestinal barrier by increasing mucins and tight junction proteins and releasing the cytokine interleukin 10.
Probiotics can help reduce weight by boosting the body’s ability to burn fat. This is because certain probiotics may increase levels of fatty acid-regulating proteins, including angiopoietin-like protein 4.
One study found that people who took 200 grams of fermented milk containing a probiotic daily for 12 weeks were able to lose visceral belly fat, which is associated with obesity and diabetes.
Another research review from 2020 says that probiotics may help to lower your risk of obesity by enhancing appetite-suppressing hormones. They also affect fatty acid function, which can help to limit fat absorption from foods.
The “good” bacteria in your gut microbiota help keep your energy levels up by regulating your metabolism and supplying your body with the nutrients it needs. This makes it easier to maintain your weight and prevent diseases such as diabetes and autoimmune diseases.
Probiotics also boost your energy by increasing your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. They can also lower blood pressure.
Adding probiotics to your diet is one way to improve your health, but you should always talk with your doctor before doing so. They may recommend a probiotic supplement that’s safe for you, especially if you take antibiotics or have an immune system condition.
The good bacteria in your gut produce sleep-regulating hormones such as melatonin and serotonin. These are vital for promoting restorative sleep, so keeping your digestive system functioning at its best can ensure you get plenty of rest.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Breus states that a healthy gut microbiome correlates with quality sleep and good sleep-wake cycles.
He recommends a balanced diet and daily consumption of probiotics and prebiotics to support healthy gut biome function. Foods rich in prebiotics, such as oats, apples, flax, and chicory, help to increase microbial diversity associated with improved sleep.
In a recent study, researchers found that participants who took a probiotic drink for six weeks showed improvement in their sleep quality and reduced anxiety and depression symptoms. However, these results must be replicated in more extensive studies considering individual differences.
Lower Risk of Illness
Probiotics can help protect you against diseases, such as several types of cancer. For example, they have been shown to decrease the enzyme activity of bacteria that produce cancer cells, reducing your risk of developing liver, colon, or bladder cancer.
In addition, there is evidence that probiotics can help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea and improve lactose metabolism. They can also help reduce the symptoms of food allergies and may even enhance your immune system in the long term, lowering your risk of illness.
Increased Mental Health
If you suffer from depression, you may be interested to know that a probiotic-rich diet can help improve your mental health. This is because your gut microbes produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that communicate with cells that produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes happiness and good moods.
Additionally, certain probiotics can increase GABA levels, a brain chemical that reduces stress and anxiety. In addition, probiotics can help your immune system fight illnesses and infections.
These benefits come with a caveat: they won’t replace therapy, medications, or other mental health treatments. Instead, they can be a part of a holistic approach to treatment, which often includes diet, exercise, and acupuncture.