Health Benefits of Probiotics
Lately, talks about probiotics are gaining traction. You might have heard about it from your neighbor, church friends or even from that lady at your yoga class.
But what exactly are probiotics? Simply put, they are the kind of bacteria you’d want inside your body.
Not All Bacterias Are Bad
Bacterias often get a bad rap for making people sick. Growing up, we’re told to avoid it as much as possible. They’re the reason why personal hygiene is part of our school’s curriculum. They’re also why commercial food preparation is strictly regulated.
Yet, not all bacterias are bad. There are also good ones like probiotics. They help our body fight the bad bacteria and has a lot of other health benefits.
Our body’s digestive tract is naturally lined with good bacteria. It helps in fighting infection and nutrient absorption. It also crowds the guts to conquer the bad bacteria. An imbalance of good and bad bacteria can lead to various illnesses and health issues.
Apart from the ones present in our guts, good bacteria are also found in the foods we eat. More specifically on fermented foods and dairy products. We can also get it from probiotic supplements.
Different Strains, Different Gains
Not all probiotics are the same. Just like its less-desired counterpart, each strain serves a different purpose. In fact, our gut alone has thousands of different probiotic strains. And there are a lot more in our other organs.
Among the most commonly researched strains are:
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus Helveticus
- Bifidobacterium Infantis
- Bifidobacterium Lactis and
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG
- Streptococcus Thermophilus
- Bifidobacterium Bifidum
- Lactobacillus Casei
Aside from medical purposes, some of these strains are also used in other industries. The streptococcus thermophilus strain, for example, is essential in making yogurts and cheeses. The newly discovered strains BI-04 and BLIS K12 are also good for treatment and prevention of ear, nose, mouth and throat problems.
Overall Health Benefits
Much research has yet to be done to come up with an exhaustive list of health benefits we can get from probiotics. But recent studies discovered its potential in the treatment and prevention of:
- urinary tract infections
- skin diseases like eczema
- heart ailments caused by bad cholesterol
- irritable bowel syndrome
- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Other proven health benefits of probiotics include:
Improves Digestive Health
Since most probiotic strains are found in our guts, our digestive system is the first to benefit from it. Eating probiotic-rich foods helps regulate bowel movement. It’s anti-inflammatory properties also relieves constipation. Studies also found that a probiotic strain called lactobacillus helveticus reduces lactose intolerance.
Promotes Mental Health
A study at UCLA found that women who consume yogurt with probiotics show improved brain function. Lab mice who are given probiotics also exhibited reduced stress levels. Researchers also suggested that it might help with anxiety. Though further studies have to be done to conclusively prove its mental health benefits.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Those suffering from high blood pressure may also benefit from probiotics. A study published in 2016 administered sour milk with probiotics for 21 weeks to people with hypertension. Results showed reduced blood pressure, plasma cholesterol and glucose levels.
Inflammation is almost always the root of most illnesses. That’s where the anti-inflammatory properties of probiotics came in. It regulates our body’s response to allergens. It also has the capacity to reduce inflammation in the gut thus alleviating symptoms of food allergy.