By now, you’ve likely encountered the mention of probiotics and their many health benefits displayed on a variety of products at the grocery store. But don’t write it off as a fad food. Recent research on probiotics suggests the live-active culture of these so-called “good” bacteria can help in preventing and treating a range of ailments. And although they are found in some foods such as yogurt and kombucha, probiotic supplements available in capsule, liquid or powder form available at your local health food store can often provide even more health benefits.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to your health. Although bacteria often has a negative connotation, probiotics are considered good bacteria that can help regulate systems and keep your body functioning healthily. Probiotics are especially good for your digestive system but have been found to be beneficial in many other ways, from staving off infection and boosting the immune system to helping to improve women’s health and even fighting obesity.
Probiotics are naturally found in your body and regularly consuming probiotic supplements can help keep your body’s “good” and “bad” bacteria in balance and keep your bodily functions working efficiently.
Types of Probiotics
While there are many types of bacteria that are classified as probiotics, most of them are categorized into two different groups: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Lactobacillus is the most common type of probiotic and can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains of lactobacillus probiotics can help with diarrhea and can be helpful to those who have trouble digesting lactose, the sugar found in dairy products.
Bifidobacterium can also be founds in some dairy products and can help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other related conditions.
Benefits of Taking Probiotic Supplements
Probiotics allow for the smooth movement of food through your body and can help with a range of ailments. Below we review just some of the many ways probiotic supplements can keep your health on track.
When we’re suffering from an ailment and take antibiotics, our 1,000 + different types of bacteria in our bodies often become unbalanced. About 30 percent of the patients who take antibiotics report suffering from diarrhea or some other form of gastrointestinal distress, according to a recent Journal of the American Medical Association study on probiotics and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The study found that probiotics helped many subjects repopulate their digestive tract with healthy bacteria.
Probiotics can also help with other types of digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, a tricky condition to treat that can spark many intestinal symptoms like abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Even without a severe issue, probiotic supplements can be generally beneficial in keeping your digestive system healthy and regular.
If you’re one to suffer from urinary tract infections (especially common among women), probiotic supplements can make a nice compliment to antibiotics or natural treatments. Furthermore, regular consumption of probiotic supplements have been proven to help prevent bad bacteria from attacking the urinary tract, minimizing the chances of developing an infection.
Similar to the digestive tract, the vagina relies on a perfect balance of good and bad bacteria to stay in good health. An imbalance of these bacterias can result in uncomfortable and painful infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. It’s been found that certain probiotic supplements can help prevent vaginal infections and complement antibiotics during treatment.
Although research is still preliminary, one recent study found that women taking probiotic supplements while pregnant had a 30 percent reduction in the likelihood of their child having eczema – an early sign of allergies in infants.
Consuming probiotic supplements can also help stimulate your body’s immune response. One study showed that students given a probiotic-rich supplement displayed increased production from lymphocytes – a marker of immune response.
Some early research has shown that regularly taking probiotic supplements can help obese people who had underwent weight loss surgery to maintain weight loss. Probiotic supplements have also been found to be helpful for postpartum women to reduce waist circumference.
Recent research found that some probiotic supplements can lower cholesterol levels. One study found that probiotic supplements break up bile salts and decrease reabsorption of cholesterol in the gut.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and low birth weight. Studies have shown that probiotic supplements can help kill bacteria that cause tooth decay and decrease harmful effects of gingivitis.
Some recent studies have shown that probiotic supplements can show positive benefits for those who live with mental health disorders. Some who take probiotic supplements can see improvements with their anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and memory.
Ready to Start Taking Probiotic Supplements? We Can Help.
A trusted natural health store in Toronto for over 40 years and recently renovated wellness clinic, Better Living takes pride in our reputation of offering our clients an unparalleled level of caring, personalized, and confidential service. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff, which includes nutritionists, a naturopathic doctor, an iridologist and a massage therapist, walk our clients through all of their options until we find the best solution for their health.
If you’re interested in introducing probiotic supplements into your diet, our staff is here to help. Better Living’s philosophy is grounded in education and our staff is always able and willing to provide friendly, unbiased, and educated advice on getting on track to a healthier lifestyle. Contact us today and start to pave your way to a healthier you.