Probiotic supplements help to support the health of your gut, which contributes to your mood and digestion. You may be asking, what are probiotics? Probiotics are a type of good bacteria and yeast that exist within your gut and are vital for the proper function of your digestive system by helping to digest food, absorb nutrients and protect our bodies. When balanced, the good bacteria in your digestive system helps to improve your overall health. If the bacteria becomes imbalanced or you suffer damage to your digestive system, you can develop severe health issues such as diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain.
One of the best-known benefits of probiotics is that it enhances digestive function; certain strains have also been shown to help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and indigestion. Imbalances in the good and bad bacteria living in your gut can lead to developing various digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. Using probiotics in your daily routine can help keep the balance of your gut health and prevent you from developing disorders by improving the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics have also been found to reduce the symptoms of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, paucities, irritable bowel syndrome, infectious diarrhea, among other disorders. For more information on probiotics and how they can help digestive disorders, check out the Dr. Ruscio blog.
Probiotic supplements can help manage and prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics, infections, and irritable bowel syndrome; this is due to how probiotics can slow gut motility and restore normal peristalsis. Gut motility is the term used to describe the contractions and stretching that occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, and when the gut motility is functioning normally, it is called peristalsis. Many studies and clinical trials have found that probiotics can be used to not only prevent diarrhea but to treat it, and in many cases, the treatment takes effect after just one day. Probiotics are also a popular travel companion as they can help defend your gut against harmful bacteria that you may encounter while on vacation.
Probiotics can support and modulate gastrointestinal immunity through the reduction of inflammation in the gut that may be caused by food allergies or infections. Inflammation in the digestive system can often cause the integrity of the cells lining the gut wall causing it to become loose and more permeable. When this occurs, it is referred to as increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome, and probiotics can help to prevent this condition by maintaining the health of the gut wall.
A common reason why people take probiotics is to support the immune system and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. It has also been found that many probiotics promote the production of natural antibodies in the body and boost immune cells such as IgA-producing cells and lymphocytes.
The benefits of a better supported immune system through taking probiotics have been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing respiratory infections. In some cases, it has even been found to reduce the severity and frequency of respiratory infections in children. Another benefit is that certain probiotics such as Lactobacillus crispatus have been directly linked to reducing the risk of urinary tract infections in women by up to 50% when they use probiotic supplements regularly.
Prebiotics, which are fibers that support the probiotics in your gut often found naturally in food, when taken alongside probiotics, can exhibit a potent anti-inflammatory effect. This can support the body in preventing a wide range of immunity-related diseases as prebiotics provide the necessary nutrients that probiotic bacteria use to grow and develop properly. There are even probiotics to treat BV, especially made for women.
As well as supporting the immune system in reducing the risk of developing disease or infections, using probiotics in your daily routine can help the body during recovery from illnesses. In one study, mice were infected with the pneumonia virus to test the survival rates when using probiotic supplementation; the results of this study found that probiotics helped to protect the mice from this viral pathogen. The probiotic used in the study was a well-known strain called Lactobacillus acidophilus. It has been shown to encourage a natural resistance against certain illnesses, as seen in further studies on pigs and other animals that have been infected with pathogens.
Further to the immune-boosting properties of probiotics, they not only support recovery but can also help ward off colds and flu, especially when they are used in conjunction with micronutrients such as iron, vitamin E, and selenium. Together probiotics and the micronutrients support the production of infection-fighting compounds and antibodies.
During one study, researchers found that by taking probiotic supplements alongside multivitamins and minerals, the duration of the common cold and flu were significantly reduced by almost two days. This recovery time was far shorter than those who only took multivitamins and minerals.