If you are a fan of health and wellness supplements, then you probably have heard about probiotics. These ‘good microorganisms’ are said to hold the key to gut health – and skin health too! If you’re wondering if you should take probiotics, make sure to read on below to find out.
As mentioned, probiotics are bacteria that help the body. The word probiotics is derived from the Latin words pro (for) and bios (life).
Probiotics help maintain the balance of the gut microbiome by fighting the bad organisms that wreak havoc on the body.
Without probiotics, you can develop dysbiosis, which is the imbalance of gut bacteria (more bad organisms than good). When this happens, you can suffer from cramping, bloating, indigestion, and diarrhea or constipation.
More than just maintaining ‘gut balance’, probiotics can also help you:
The most common probiotic strains in the market are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. A type of yeast, known as Saccharomyces boulardii, is considered a good probiotic as well.
Latest studies show that taking probiotics could help our overall health, especially if you want to maintain good gut health.
Additionally, probiotics are best taken by people who suffer from the following maladies:
Diarrhea often results from a bowel infection. For mild cases, treatment is all about drinking water and letting the infection run its course. However, studies suggest that taking probiotics – together with fluids - may help shorten the infection by at least a day. According to a report, such benefit stems from the probiotics’ ability to suppress the activity of diarrhea-causing bacteria.
Constipation is usually caused by a lack of fluid or fiber intake. In some instances, it may also be caused by a lack of movement or exercise. Apart from having hard stools, constipation may lead to less than 3 bowel movements a week.
While stool softeners and laxatives are widely available, they are not that effective. At most, they come with unpleasant side effects.
Because of this, probiotics are recommended for those who want to enjoy healthier bowel movements. According to a study, they can help increase the frequency of stool passage by 1.3 times the usual. Add to that, the strain B. lactis is deemed to be particularly useful in softening stools.
IBD is a term used to describe a range of gut conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of both disorders include diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss, fatigue, and bleeding.
According to a study, probiotics offer a variety of benefits for IBD sufferers. These include reduced symptoms, lesser relapse - and a better quality of life.
IBS is a condition caused by a variety of factors. This may result from changes in gut activity, inflammation, and bacterial overgrowth.
According to a study, probiotics may help reduce IBS symptoms by producing bacteria-fighting proteins. Results show that those who took probiotics had a decrease in stomach pain and diarrhea as well.
Lactose intolerance is defined as the inability to digest lactose due to the lack of the enzyme lactase. As a result, a person with this condition can suffer from gas, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming dairy products.
Probiotics such as Lactobacilli may help curb the said symptoms by aiding in the digestion of lactose. Strains such as L. bulgaricus and S. thermopilus, on the other hand, may help produce the lactase needed by the gut. At the same time, milk made with B. longum may also help decrease one’s gassiness.
An upset gut does not only lead to intestinal problems, as they may result in skin problems too. This often happens when the gut-skin axis is disrupted.
Whenever you eat an unhealthy diet – or get stressed out – your gut and skin suffer from dysbiosis. With bad bacteria outnumbering the good, you can end up developing acne or eczema.
Probiotics can help address these skin problems in several ways. First, strains such as Bifidobacteria can help boost the production of ceramides, substances that keep the skin moisturized. This makes probiotics good for eczema, a disorder characterized by low levels of ceramides on the skin.
Apart from keeping the skin moisturized, probiotics such as Lactobacilli help maintain the skin barrier. At the same time, they can produce proteins that help fight the bad bacteria. With these effects, probiotics may keep your skin safe from acne breakouts.
The benefits of probiotics do not end here though, as they may help curb skin aging as well. As people age, the skin gets more acidic – an environment that bad bacteria thrive in. With probiotic supplementation, the good bacteria can help maintain the right skin pH.
Since probiotics are naturally occurring organisms in your body, they are generally safe to take. However, you can experience some gas, bloating, stomach upset, and diarrhea within the first few days of consumption.
While probiotics have mild side effects, it should not be taken by people who are critically ill or have weakened immune systems. Those who have just undergone surgery are discouraged from taking probiotics as well.
Fermented food and beverages, such as the ones below, are the best source of probiotics:
If you dislike these sources – or if you are allergic to them – you can get your daily dose of probiotics through supplements. These can range from pills and lozenges to powders and drinks.
According to a study, you need to have 100 million to 1 billion colony-forming units of probiotics a day for best results.
Since probiotics may lead to stomach upset at first, taking the supplement after meals may help reduce such symptoms.
As probiotics are quite sensitive, it will help to take your pills with the right kinds of food or beverages. These include low-fat milk, oatmeal, and other healthy carbohydrate sources.
Probiotics can break down easily after exposure to heat, light, oxygen, or humidity. As such, make sure to keep your supplements protected from such elements.
Probiotics are supplements that are good for your general health. With its benefits for the gut – and the skin – it's time that you got started with a regimen right away!
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