Bacteria exist mostly in out guts and they're quite a harmless bunch. These bacteria has attributed to several health benefits such as weight loss, improved digestions and enhanced immune systems. Probiotics, which are a type of healthy and friendly bacteria, provides these health benefits when digested. They can be taken as supplement which can help to fill your gut with health-boosting microorganisms.


What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are a type of living microorganism that provides a myriad of health benefits when ingested, they are usually bacteria and some of them can also be found in yeast. Probiotics exist more commonly in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi as these foods are prepared through bacterial fermentation. They should not be confused with prebiotics, which are dietary fibres that help to feed the friendly bacteria that are already in your guts. Some of these bacteria help digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, or produce vitamins.

Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies. 


How Are Probiotics Beneficial?

Gut flora or microbiota is the complex community of microorganisms that lives in the gut. In fact, there are as many as 1,000 types of microorganisms according to some estimations including yeasts, bacteria and viruses - with bacteria making up the vast majority. Most of them can be found in the colon and large intestines. The gut flora performs many functions that are important for health such as the manufacturing of vitamins, including Vitamin K and Vitamin B. It also turns fibres into short-chain fats like butyrate, propionate and acetate, which feed your gut wall and perform many metabolic functions. However, not all of these organisms are friendly and the gut flora is sensitive to what you eat. An unbalanced diet can lead to numerous diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, Alzheimer's and depression.


Digestive Health

Probiotics are widely researched for their effects on digestive health. There are strong evidence suggesting that probiotic supplements can help cure antibiotic-associated diarrhea, especially for those taking antibiotics for long periods of time. This is because the antibiotics kill many of the natural bacteria in your gut, which shifts gut balance and allows harmful bacteria to thrive. Probiotics also combat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common digestive disorder, reducing gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and othersymptoms. Some studies also note benefits against inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. What’s more, probiotics may fight Helicobacter pylori infections, which are one of the main drivers of ulcers and stomach cancer.


Help in Weight Loss

People who are obese have different gut bacteria than those who are lean. Interestingly, animal studies indicate that fecal transplants from lean animals can make obese animals lose weight. Therefore, many scientists believe that your gut bacteria are important in determining body weight. Although more research is needed, some probiotic strains appear to aid weight loss. In one study in 210 people with central obesity, which is characterized by excess belly fat, taking the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri daily resulted in an 8.5% loss of belly fat over 12 weeks. When participants stopped taking the probiotic, they gained the belly fat back within four weeks. Evidence also suggests that Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis can assist with weight loss and obesity prevention — though this needs more research.


Though more research is necessary, some evidence suggests that certain probiotic strains can help people lose weight.

Other Health Benefits

There are many other benefits of probiotics. They affect:

  1. Inflammation: Probiotics reduce systemic inflammation, a leading driver of many diseases.
  2. Depression and anxiety: The probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with clinical depression.
  3. Blood cholesterol: Several probiotics have been shown to lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
  4. Blood pressure: Probiotics may also cause modest reductions in blood pressure.
  5. Immune function: Several probiotic strains may enhance immune function, possibly leading to a reduced risk of infections, including for the common cold.
  6. Skin health: There is some evidence that probiotics can be useful for acne, rosacea and eczema, as well as other skin disorders.

This is only a small slice of probiotics’ total benefits, as ongoing studies indicate a wide breadth of health effects.In addition to their impact on weight loss and digestion, probiotics may also improve heart health, immune function and symptoms of depression and anxiety.


The Bottom Line

Maintaining a healthy gut is about more than just taking a probiotic supplement. Day-to-day diet and exercise are just as important since many lifestyle factors impact your gut bacteria. However, probiotic supplements offer a wide range of benefits with few side effects — so if you’re interested in improving your gut health, they could be worth a shot. We offer live probiotics (Houttuynia) that can be used easily by mixing it into your drinks, or in your food. Find out more on our probiotics here.


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