Probiotics 101: A Simple Beginner’s Guide!

Probiotics 101: A Simple Beginner’s Guide!


The bacteria in your body outnumber your body’s
cells 10 to one. Most of these bacteria reside in your gut. Most of these bacteria reside in your gut,
and the majority are quite harmless. Having the right gut bacteria is even linked
to numerous health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, enhanced immune
function, healthier skin and a reduced risk of many diseases. Probiotics, which are a certain type of friendly
bacteria, provide health benefits when eaten. They are often taken as supplements that are
supposed to colonize your gut with health-boosting microorganisms. This video examines the health benefits of
probiotics. What Are Probiotics? Probiotics are living microorganisms that,
when ingested, provide numerous health benefits. They’re usually bacteria, but certain types
of yeasts can also function as probiotics. You can get probiotics from supplements, as
well as from foods prepared by bacterial fermentation. Probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut,
tempeh and kimchi. Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics,
which are dietary fibers that help feed the friendly bacteria already in your gut. Dozens of different probiotic bacteria offer
health benefits. The most common groups include Lactobacillus
and Bifidobacterium. Each group comprises different species, and
each species has many strains. Interestingly, different probiotics address
different health conditions. Therefore, choosing the right type — or
types — of probiotic is essential. Some supplements — known as broad-spectrum
probiotics or multi-probiotics — combine different species in the same product. Although the evidence is promising, more research
is needed on the health benefits of probiotics. In fact, your gut contains hundreds of different
types of microorganisms — as many as 1,000, according to some estimations. This includes bacteria, yeasts and viruses
— with bacteria making up the vast majority. Most of the gut flora is found in your colon,
or large intestine, which is the last part of your digestive tract. Surprisingly, the metabolic activities of
your gut flora resemble those of an organ. For this reason, some scientists refer to
the gut flora as the “forgotten organ”. Your gut flora performs many functions that
are important for health. It manufactures vitamins, including vitamin
K and some of the B vitamins. It also turns fibers into short-chain fats
like butyrate, propionate and acetate, which feed your gut wall and perform many metabolic
functions. These fats also stimulate your immune system
and strengthen your gut wall. This can help prevent unwanted substances
from entering your body and provoking an immune response. However, not all organisms in your gut are
friendly. Your gut flora is highly sensitive to your
diet, and studies show that an unbalanced gut flora is linked to numerous diseases. These diseases include obesity, type 2 diabetes,
metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s and depression. Probiotics — and prebiotic fibers — can
help correct this balance, ensuring that your “forgotten organ” is functioning optimally. Impact on Digestive Health! Probiotics are widely researched for their
effects on digestive health. Strong evidence suggests that probiotic supplements
can help cure antibiotic-associated diarrhea. When people take antibiotics, especially for
long periods of time, they often experience diarrhea — even long after the infection
has been eradicated. 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
other symptoms. 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. If you currently have digestive problems that
you can’t seem to vanquish, a probiotic supplement may be something to consider — though you
should consider consulting with your doctor first. 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. Conversely, some animal studies demonstrate
that other probiotic strains could lead to weight gain, not loss. Other Health Benefits! There are many other benefits of probiotics. They affect:
Inflammation: Probiotics reduce systemic inflammation, a leading driver of many diseases. 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. Blood cholesterol: Several probiotics have
been shown to lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Blood pressure: Probiotics may also cause
modest reductions in blood pressure. Immune function: Several probiotic strains
may enhance immune function, possibly leading to a reduced risk of infections, including
for the common cold. 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. Safety and Side Effects! Probiotics are generally well tolerated and
considered safe for most people. However, in the first few days, you may experience
side effects related to digestion, such as gas and mild abdominal discomfort. After you adjust, your digestion should begin
improving. In people with compromised immune systems,
including those with HIV, AIDS and several other conditions, probiotics can lead to dangerous
infections. If you have a medical condition, consult with
your doctor before taking a probiotic supplement.

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