Why Probiotics Could Be An Important Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle

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In recent years, scientific understanding of the power of probiotics has increased. A broad range of research has been carried out regarding the health benefits of probiotic foods and supplements, particularly in relation to their effect on gastrointestinal health, but also in terms of mood. The results have been exciting, though it should be stressed, studies are ongoing.   

But what are probiotics, exactly? Well, probiotics are living microorganisms that are similar to the beneficial bacteria found naturally in our gut, and, it’s claimed, can be used to aid digestion and protect against disease-causing bacteria. Although probiotics have only recently become widely recognized by the public for their many health benefits, they’ve actually been around for thousands of years, in fermented food products like kimchi, yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso and many more items.

All delicious stuff, no doubt. But if you’re wondering why probiotics could be an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and not just a delicious addition to your dinner, then you’ve come to the right place. 

THEY MAY HELP BALANCE THE FRIENDLY BACTERIA IN YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

The human digestive system contains both good and bad bacteria. Research shows that beneficial bacteria, like those found in probiotics, can help keep the bad bacteria in check so your body can function properly. 

However, when you take antibiotics or consume foods that contain preservatives or artificial ingredients, it can kill all of the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This upsets the balance in your digestive system and causes issues, including pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, skin problems, and other health conditions.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that exist naturally in foods like yoghurt and kimchi, and most people agree that the best way to ingest and benefit from these probiotics is through the food that we eat. However, they’re also available in both pill and powder form, and can help your gut bacteria remain replete and healthy, which, in turn, may have the potential to help you better manage stress.

When you eat fermented foods or take probiotic supplements on a regular basis (they’re often sold as capsules or liquids), it can help restore the beneficial bacteria in your gut so your body can return to its natural state of equilibrium. Taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics could be especially important because they may prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and other issues caused by the loss of healthy gut bacteria.

THEY COULD HELP YOU DIGEST YOUR FOOD BETTER

Eating plenty of probiotic foods or taking a daily supplement with your meal can help improve digestion and may even help strengthen your immune system, too. 

According to Harvard Health, taking probiotics may even aid constipation, as well as helping with inflammatory bowel disease, which can be hard to treat with conventional medicine and complex surgery. Again, it should be emphasised that studies are ongoing.

Some also believe that when regular probiotics are taken along with a digestive enzyme, it could help better break down the food in your stomach. Of course, you should always talk to your GP or a qualified nutritionist before adding any new supplements to your diet.

PROBIOTICS MIGHT HELP PREVENT AND TREAT DIARRHOEA

Diarrhoea can be caused by a number of different issues. Symptoms include loose stool, nausea, cramping, bloating, and more. Although scientists aren’t exactly sure why probiotics can help with diarrhea, some research suggests that they could reduce the movement of bacteria and yeast through your digestive system, which slows down bowel movements.

Probiotics may also help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in your body after you’ve taken antibiotics or consumed something that upsets your gut, like processed foods or artificial sweeteners. Although probiotics can’t stop diarrhoea that’s caused by other issues, they can improve your intestinal health to prevent future instances of diarrhoea.

THEY MIGHT EVEN IMPROVE YOUR MOOD AND REDUCE STRESS LEVELS

A study shown on BBC program ‘The Truth About Improving Your Mental Health’ recently revealed the role probiotics play in keeping the ‘second mind’ healthy, with participants who took probiotic supplements seeing a 50% improvement in their mood compared to a placebo 

The connection between the gut and the brain is a two-way street. In fact, some scientists believe that the cells lining the walls of your intestines are similar to the brain cells found in your head. This is why stress and other mood-altering events can cause issues in your digestive system. In fact, studies have shown that the gut produces 90% of the body’s serotonin, a key hormone responsible for stabilising mood. Another reason to take good care of it, don’t you think?

PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS & THEIR POTENTIAL EFFECT ON STRESS

Fermented foods high in probiotics and healthy gut bacteria may also help relieve stress; no wonder they call your gut the ‘second mind’! Again, supplements are available should you not relish the rich, complex tang of such foods.

Researchers have found that certain strains might reduce stress and anxiety by reducing inflammation in your body. In one study, the effects of probiotic supplements on healthy adults were compared to a placebo. The results found that those who took probiotics experienced less anxiety and lowered cortisol levels (a hormone linked to stress).

IT MAY REDUCE THE SEVERITY OF CERTAIN ALLERGIES AND ECZEMA

According to some experts, the cause of certain allergies and eczema is an overload of bad bacteria in your stomach. Probiotics allow for good microbes to grow, which could reduce the severity of certain types of skin conditions like eczema and itchy rashes. 

THE POTENTIAL FOR REDUCING SYMPTOMS OF CERTAIN DIGESTIVE DISORDERS

Bad microbes actually thrive off of certain types of food that you eat. They cause gas, bloating, and indigestion when too much of this material is allowed to accumulate in your stomach. Probiotics help to flush out these bad microbes by potentially allowing for good bacteria to grow throughout your digestive system. 

This could help sufferers with common symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, and acid reflux. 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Scientific consensus is growing; in order to have a healthy lifestyle, it might be wise to include probiotics in your diet.

*This article is not intended to replace medical or dietary advice, diagnosis or treatment given by a qualified health professional or nutritionist. Instead, this article only provides information, not advice. For any medical enquiries, always consult your GP first*

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