My friends and family will all tell you that I am a constant cheerleader of probiotics benefits. The first line of defense for a healthy body beyond diet and exercise, in my opinion, should always be a probiotic.
Being fairly well versed in health and wellness makes it difficult for me to stay silent on this topic. Whenever someone tells me about a minor ailment, or concern, my first response is typically to ask if they are taking a probiotic. Most of the time I receive a side-eye response about how he or she does not have gastrointestinal issues, so a probiotic had not been considered.
And that’s when my girlfriends give one another the “here she goes again” glance as I begin to talk about how probiotics benefits go well beyond the gastrointestinal system. The marketing of probiotics has made them seem somewhat confusing, so it’s completely understandable that many people don’t know that probiotics also have the potential for physical, immunological, and even behavioral benefits!
We all have live bacteria in our gut. It is thought that there are hundreds of bacterial species inside our bodies. The thought of bacteria in our bodies may sound sort of gross, but in fact it is vitally important to a properly functioning gastrointestinal tract. Many people don’t realize that 70-80% of our immune cells are located in the gut, which is why we need to keep that bacteria going strong.
The healthy bacteria can be altered by factors such as toxins, diet, stress, and antibiotic use. Over time, an overall healthy flora balance can transition into an unfavorable one, which can throw off our digestive and immune systems.
Probiotics are strains of good live bacteria that enter the system, and help to restore balance in the gastrointestinal tract, limit the growth of undesirable bacteria. They can assist with the digestion and utilization of vitamins and nutrients, and support normal immune system function. Probiotics can also help the body to eliminate metabolic waste.
Of course, you should talk to a practitioner before starting to take probiotics, as she or he may have recommendations of specific strains that may work best for supporting your body’s needs. It is essential to know what health concerns you are seeking to improve by taking a probiotic, and research which strain(s) of bacteria are most likely to support your specific goal or situation.
And while I highlight the findings several research studies below, it should be noted that probiotic products are not evaluated by the FDA, and therefore cannot be said to diagnose, treat, or cure any ailments or disease.
Probiotics Benefits for Everyone
Here are just some of the ways that the bacteria in our gut affects our bodies, and likewise, how probiotics may help:
Stress can change the balance of bacteria that live in the gut, affecting immune system function. Probiotics benefits do include helping us maintain a healthy digestive system, but the effects go much further than that. While stress does not necessary cause a weak stomach, it can change brain-gut interactions. Yet probiotic bacteria have the potential to affect brain chemistry too, which means that they may not only be helpful in supporting a healthy gastrointestinal tract, but may also support one’s mood.
A large proportion of the immune system that is located in the gut and the microorganisms that reside there are known to interact with the immune system. For example, one study found that while people who took a specific probiotic supplement had a better health-related quality of life during the supplement periodr than those who did not take a probiotic.
Additionally, studies have demonstrated that the intestinal bacteria of people who are overweight differs from that of thinner people. Researchers are working to determine how the intestinal microbiota affects body weight and cholesterol levels. More work is being done to determine whether taking probiotics (and which strains) may be helpful for supporting these concerns.
It is important to note that while the development, study, and marketing of probiotics has grown immensely, many of the potential probiotics benefits still warrant more research. Also keep in mind that certain probiotic strains (or combination thereof) may work to support certain issues, while others may not be as helpful.
The one question I get most often is about what brand of probiotics is used in my household. Well, before I even began doing work with NOW Foods, my husband and I both took their probiotics. Our preference is to use one that contains several probiotic strains and at least 5 billion organisms. The Probiotic-10 + Inulin contains 10 probiotic strains and 10 billion organisms. It’s shelf stable too. He uses the capsules. I take the packets in a glass of water simply because I prefer that to swallowing a capsule.
Last year I had the opportunity to visit the NOW Foods manufacturing facility and headquarters, and was beyond impressed with their incredible attention to detail in ensuring that their products are free of chemicals, toxins and any other impurities. We all have decisions to make about what brands we trust our own use and for our family, and that visit simply cemented my trust. By the way, my son takes NOW’s chewable probiotics that are shipped like animals and come in a cute “BerryDophilus” flavor. That one also contains 10 probiotic strains and 10 billion organisms.
If you aren’t sure which probiotic is the right one for you, then take a look at NOW’s Probiotic & Gut Health Product Finder. This easy-to-use tool will help you narrow down the selections to what serves your most pressing needs.
Are the potential probiotics benefits mentioned here getting you thinking about starting to take one?
If so, do your homework, purchase from a brand you trust, and tell your medical practitioner before starting any new supplements. You too may find benefits that perhaps you weren’t expecting!
Disclaimer: As mentioned above, please consult your medical practitioner before making any changes to your wellness routine. These items are not evaluated by the FDA, and may not diagnose, treat, or cure any ailments or disease. Additionally note that I am a #NOWWellness Influencer, and as such, NOW® is a sponsor of EatSleepBe.com
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