Many of us have heard of probiotics but don’t necessarily know what we should do with them or how they work.
First: probiotics are good for you good health, but why is it so important? Your gut isn’t just where food goes, it’s actually the center of all body systems, and its health can affect everything including immunity, mood, physical and emotional health.
In fact, the gut microbiome and the brain are in cahoots: they are constantly talking and sending messages back and forth. This is a process known as the gut-brain axis.
“When our digestive system is fine, our central nervous system is happy too,” says the nutrition therapist Carol Becker. “Probiotics are live bacteria that can help improve gut flora and you can find them in fermented foods like plain yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, or take them as a supplement.”
In fact, taking probiotics for just three weeks could help restore the microbiome and reduce levels of depression, stress and anxiety, according to a study published in the Clinics and practice diary. Participants also showed overall happier mood, more energy, and less brain fog.
Here, we’ll explain more about the gut, how probiotics can keep it functioning efficiently, and why this is critical to our overall health and well-being.
What are probiotics?
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, if administered in adequate quantities, confer a health benefit to the host”. An easier way to put it is that probiotics are live bacteria that are good for you, especially your digestive system.
As we have already heard, they can play a vital role in the health of the gut microbiome: the collection of billions of bacteria, with up to 500 different living species in our digestive tract.
“While some bacteria can be harmful to our health, many others are extremely beneficial, and maintaining a harmonious balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria is critical to our overall health,” he says. You love Shewarda nutritionist who specializes in bowel and digestive health.
Our gut bacteria develop from birth and it not only helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients from what we eat but also provides energy and produces vitamins.
“It is also important for immunological health, the removal of pollutants from the body and our emotional well-being,” adds Sheward. “A variety of things impact our gut microorganisms – sugar and refined carbohydrate diets, alcohol, antibiotics, stress, pollution and toxins can all disrupt the balance.”
He adds that dysbiosis – when gut bacteria become unbalanced – occurs when there are more bad bacteria than good. “This causes something called ‘immunological dysregulation’, which essentially knocks out your immune system and makes you more prone to colds and infections, by reducing nutrient absorption and decreasing your ability to synthesize certain B vitamins that increase blood pressure. energy, all of which can lead to fatigue, “he says.
“The good news is that there are things we can do to improve the environment in which good bacteria can thrive, including dietary changes and taking probiotic supplements.”
Types of probiotics
Two of the most common and extensively studied probiotics are Bifidobacteria And Lactobacillus.
Bifidobacteria are bacterial probiotics often used in foods and supplements. They are believed to support immunity by helping to break down lactose into nutrients that the body can absorb and also limit the growth of bad or harmful bacteria in the gut.
Lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, or milk sugar, is produced from Lactobacillus. Lactic acid is also produced by these bacteria. Lactic acid helps control bad bacteria. It also acts as a source of muscle fuel and aids in the absorption of minerals. Lactobacillus bacteria occur naturally in the mouth, vaginal canal and small intestine.
“You may already be eating foods that contain probiotics in your daily diet,” Sheward says. “Fermented foods, especially yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, cheese and tempeh, contain a variety of beneficial microorganisms. Fermented drinks like kombucha – fermented tea – and kefir – fermented milk drink – can also help you get more probiotics in your diet. “
How do probiotics work?
Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that help keep the body healthy and functioning efficiently. These beneficial bacteria can fight bad bacteria when you have too many, helping to boost your immune system to get you healed again.
“When ingested, the bacteria in probiotics ‘compete’ against potentially pathogenic microbes in the gastrointestinal tract to try to inhibit their harmful effects,” explains a functional medicine practitioner. Danny Ly. “They can do this by producing antimicrobial substances that can kill opportunistic pathogens and by binding to the viruses themselves. That’s why having a large and varied number of “good bugs” or bacteria in the gut has also been shown to dampen allergies and sensitivities, support the immune system, decrease inflammation, improve nutrient absorption and much more. “
What are the benefits of probiotics?
Probiotics can have many benefits. “They have been shown to improve gut health, the immune system and cognitive function, among other things,” says Sheward. “Constipation, blood pressure, skin health and other problems have also been linked in the studies.”
Much research has also been done on probiotics and how they could be used to treat and manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common condition that affects the digestive system, with symptoms including stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. .
“Changes in the gut microbiome have been linked to IBS symptoms,” Sheward says. “Education found that people with IBS, for example, have fewer levels of Lactobacillus And Bifidobacterium in the stomach and higher levels of pathogens Streptococcus, E. coliAnd Clostridium in their bowels “.
Bowel expert and nutritionist Hanna Braye he also adds that most people know that probiotics are good for the gut, but many don’t realize they are also a great way to support the immune system. “Over 70 percent of which reside in the lining of the gut and are supported by a diverse community of bacteria,” he says. “Furthermore, good gut bacteria have been shown to affect both the ‘innate’ immune system, the one we are born with, and the ‘acquired’ immune system, the one we develop over time.”
Think of your innate immune system a bit like a paramedic – these intelligent immune cells are first at the scene of an injury or infection. They try to limit the damage but are not particularly specialized in their response.
“While your acquired immune system is more like a hospital consultant,” he adds, “He is highly specialized, adapting his response to the specific threat. He is able to do this by remembering past contact with various viruses, bacteria and others. different microbes. These two immune systems work together to protect you from disease-causing bacteria and also to keep immune responses regulated and in balance. A probiotic supplement can help shorten the lifespan and severity of a disease. ”