6 Powerful Benefits of Taking Probiotics
Probiotics are classified as good or friendly bacteria needed by the body for optimal health. Essentially these bacterial strains are beneficial and keep their harmful counterparts in check. At the same time, they also inhibit the progress of diseases and infections in the body. Here are 6 powerful benefits of taking probiotics:
1. Preserves Digestive Health
Most of the potency of probiotics come from their ability to balance out the good and bad bacteria in the gut. In this way, they not only preserve and promote friendly bacteria in the gut but also keep bad bacteria in check.
As such, probiotics work towards regulating gastrointestinal imbalances and bowel diseases. Strains most effective for digestive health stand up well to the acidic environments of the stomach and intestines. These will pass through the stomach intact and move into the intestines.
This is where probiotics carry out their most potent and healing work. Some optimize nutrient absorption while others lower pH levels in the colon.
2. Prevents Diarrhoea
Probiotics can help prevent diarrhoea or reduce its intensity. While there can be other reasons for the condition, diarrhoea is sometimes brought about as a side effect of taking antibiotics.
This so happens as antibiotics can impact the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. While the medication itself attempts to target the bad bacteria, it can also upset the friendly bacteria. This, in turn, can cause digestive symptoms like diarrhoea.
However, research shows that probiotics can lower the risk of diarrhoea associated with antibiotic use. At the same time, certain strains of probiotics can also lower the risk of other types of diarrhoea including traveller’s diarrhoea.
3. Boosts Immunity
Probiotics also help modulate the immune system and enhance its performance against invasive bacteria.
Factors like poor food choices, excessive use of medication, stress and environmental influences can all wreak havoc on the body’s immune system. With a healthy immune system, it is easy to filter out toxins and harmful chemicals out of the body. But when the same becomes compromised, the body starts to give in to autoimmune disorders, allergic reactions and other infectious diseases.
Probiotics can resolve some of these issues by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Some strains have even been studied to boost the production of natural antibodies in the body.
4. Maintains Oral Health
Gut health is not the only area where probiotics have a positive impact. In fact, several studies suggest that certain strains may be highly beneficial for oral health as well.
There are many types of bacteria resident in the mouth. Among these, some cause plaque formation, and others bring about bad breath. Still, others are responsible for cavities, gingivitis or other forms of advanced gum disease.
Different strains of bacteria work on different aspects of oral health. However, most work by neutralizing acidic conditions in the mouth.
5. Improves Mental Health
The gut-brain connection has long been an area of extensive research. With probiotics in the mix, this connection has been further reinforced. Experts say that probiotics can also boost mood, decrease anxiety and ease depression among other benefits.
When the balance of gut bacteria is revised, it can also let you improve your mood, handle stress better and even lower depressive symptoms. This happens because a change in intestinal bacteria may have an impact on your mental health.
Just as the brain sends signals to the gut, the same also happens in the reverse direction. Plus, gut bacteria can also produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Both of these are important for mood regulation.
So with a healthier gut environment, the signals received by the brain are also more positive. And to maintain this healthy environment, you add in more probiotics to your daily nutrient regimen.
6. Weight Loss Benefits
Once again moving back to the gut, probiotics can help you lose weight in a number of ways. For instance, some strains inhibit the absorption of dietary fat while other release appetite reducing hormones.
The first of the two absorbs dietary fat and prevents its reabsorption by the body by excreting it through faeces. The second increases hormone levels that help you burn calories and fat faster. Together, the two mechanisms can help you shed some extra pounds.
By improving gut health, probiotics may also lower systemic inflammation. This is an aspect that factors into obesity and many other diseases.
However, the important thing to note here is that not every strain of bacteria will work equally well for every condition. While some strains may help promote weight loss, others may be more beneficial in preventing the weight from coming back.
That said, there are also strains that actually lead to weight gain. So it is very important to discuss dosage and its implications with your doctor before taking any type of probiotics for weight loss purposes.
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What Is a Good Dosage For Probiotics
The important thing to know about probiotics is that these micro-organisms must be alive to offer any health benefits. Since these are alive organisms, you need to be sure that they will not pose a threat to your health.
When lacking in diet, probiotics can also be taken in supplemental form. Many people find this an easier option as supplements are ready to take as is and don’t require any preparation.
Probiotic doses are typically standardized based on the number of living bacteria per unit of volume or CFUs (colony forming units). This basically means that to achieve therapeutic effects, the dosage is strain dependant along with the purpose for which it is taken.
As a general rule, a probiotic should yield at least 1 billion CFUs with typical doses varying between 1 billion and 10 billion CFUs daily for adults. To maintain a healthy digestive tract, between 1 and 2 billion CFUs will suffice. However, dosage can go up to 10 billion CFUs if you suffer from bacterial imbalances such as in diarrhoea.
Most people think of bacteria as health deterrents. However, it is important to know that our digestive system needs a healthy equilibrium between the good and bad bacteria to function normally. But where this balance is disturbed, we can look to probiotics for assistance in restoring the equation.