Probiotics are ideal for your digestive health, but they don’t just do that. You will be amazed by all the good things probiotics can do for your overall health.
Probiotics Improve Immune Health
One of the best non-digestive benefits of probiotics is their strengthening of the immune system. The good gut bacteria manage to do that thanks to their ability to stop pathogenic organisms from taking control of our systems.
The beneficial bacteria inside us produce substances that help strengthen our bodies and protect against bad bacteria, yeast and other harmful organisms. Research has shown how the bacteria lining your intestines strengthen the barrier that stops pathogens from reaching your body by escaping through the GI tract.
Probiotics also promote immune health by maintaining the pH of the digestive tract at a level where it’s almost impossible for salmonella or E coli to grow. Another way in which probiotics help the immune system is by supporting regular bowel movements. This way, the toxins have less time to be reabsorbed into your blood stream.
Probiotics Improve Mental Health
Most people have a hard time believing there’s a connection between our gut and our mood, but just think about the last time you felt anxious, angry or afraid. You
most likely described it as “having butterflies in your stomach” and this just proves how closely the two are tied together.
We actually have a “second brain” in our bodies and it’s called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). It controls the GI tract and senses environmental threats. From there on, it provides the brain with information through the vagus nerve, with 90 percent of signals travelling from the gut to the brain. Depression, anxiety or sleep disorders are just a few conditions tightly linked with intestinal problems.
This is why the gut-brain axis is a real thing and why conditions such as IBS also trigger mood disorders. In addition, one of the most common treatments for IBS is antidepressants. The two two probiotic strains used to control your mood from the “bottom up” are Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum.
Probiotics Boost Energy Levels
If you take care of your body and make sure you enable it to use nutrients and eliminate toxins properly, you stand to receive a great boost in your overall energy levels. These facts are supported by science, which demonstrates that probiotics fight fatigue and chronic fatigue especially.
A group of athletes suffering from fatigue and reduced performance were tested and it has been shown they had a reduced secretion of interferon, with the majority being infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. When the athletes were administered a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus for a month, their interferon levels improved, with only one of them still carrying the virus. Fatigue was reduced, while there was a noticeable improvement in athletic performance.
It has been proven that rebalancing your gut flora can have a beneficial effect on your overall energy levels, with probiotics being one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve interferon levels.
Probiotics Improve Cholesterol Levels
Most of the cholesterol produced by your liver is converted into bile acids, used by the gallbladder to help
with the digestion of fats. They end up in the colon where
they are either excreted or destroyed.
People who don’t consume enough fiber usually have too much pathogenic microflora in the gut tract and it attacks bile acids, breaking them into several substances, one of which is lithocholate. This substance makes the liver convert less cholesterol into bile acids, which leads to cholesterol build up in the blood stream and to less cholesterol being excreted naturally. Probiotics can prevent this very dangerous effect, as bowel movements are the body’s primary way of eliminating cholesterol.
Probiotics Regulate Hormone Levels
Usually, the liver gathers around 60 percent of the estrogen in the blood stream and it neutralizes it. After that, it’s released into the gallbladder and discharged with bile into the intestines so it can be eliminated naturally. The intestines contain an enzyme produced by probiotics called Beta-glucoronidase, which reactivates the estrogen so it can be absorbed by the body.
When our gut flora is unbalanced, the estrogen is neither reabsorbed nor reactivated, but eliminated with the stool. Low estrogen levels are something women want to avoid as they have been linked to osteoporosis, menstrual cramps, heavy flow, PMS, breast soreness, slow menstrual cycles, headaches or migraines.
Besides residing in the GI tract, good bacteria can also be found in the urinary tract and vagina, where they fight yeast overgrowth. Beneficial bacteria protects against urinary tract infections and acute cystitis – which is of great importance since 30 percent of American women develop it during their lifetime.
Lactobacillus is the best known species residing in the vagina, where it helps maintain the pH level and urinary tract slightly acidic, preventing yeast overgrowth (including E.coli).
If women don’t have a balanced gut flora, pathogens have a better chance of adhering to the bladder wall, causing infections and recurring problems.
When taking antibiotics to kill the harmful bacteria, they also eliminate the beneficial microflora that protects the urinary tract, so the only thing you’re doing is leaving a gate open for the infections to reappear. This is why most doctors prescribe probiotics when you’re taking antibiotics. So, just make sure you’re taking a probiotic supplement to restore your gut balance and reduce the frequency of urinary tract infections.
Probiotics Improve Oral Health
Probiotics reside in the oral cavity, where their main job is to support the immune system in eliminating viruses and bacteria that come through the mouth and nose.
Over 600 species of bacteria reside in our oral cavity, but not many of them have a key role in our health. However, researchers have discovered that high number of the better known species residing in the oral cavity reduce the incidence of dental caries, bad breath, strep throat, ear infections and tonsillitis.
The best way to increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in your oral cavity is to use a probiotic supplement containing Streptococcus Salivarius, which can help restore the natural flora within the mouth and throat.
Probiotics Promote Weight Loss
In the last few years, a lot of research has found a direct link between the intestinal flora and our weight. But this doesn’t come as a shock for most people as this has been known for years.
Antibiotic use leads to a reduction in the numbers of beneficial bacteria within the body, causing it to absorb fewer nutrients that help keep us healthy. Farmers have been using antibiotics for over 50 years to fatten pigs, cattle and chicken as the animals gain weight quicker with less food. Antibiotics promote weight gain with less food and probiotics stop this vicious cycle.
Probiotics Prolong Life
The more diverse our intestinal flora is, the better it will be for your overall health. One study examined the gut bacteria of 178 elderly individuals over the age of 65 (with 78 being the average and none of them on antibiotics), revealing that the microbes varied greatly depending on where the subjects lived and what their general state of health was. The healthiest of them were those who lived independently in the community, also having the most varied microbacterial flora. Those who were living in living homes had a less diverse GI flora and were not as healthy.
Having a varied diet that includes fermented foods, or even better, a probiotic supplement, is key to maintaining balanced gut flora and, by extension, liveliness.
As you can see, probiotics play an important role in your overall health and their benefits don’t stop with digestion. When looking to balance your gut flora, make sure you choose a proven probiotic supplement that is made in the US and contains over 25 billion CFUs and at least 10 probiotic strains (including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium).