Probiotics: Everything You Need To Know
If you have talked to any certified nutrition health coach or your fitness-buff friends of late, you have likely heard about probiotics.
In the health and fitness scene, probiotics have gained massive popularity in recent times. But, of course, they aren’t anything new. Probiotic supplements have been here for a long time now and millions of people around the world take them.
In fact, as compared to 2007; in 2012 more three million US adults used probiotic or prebiotic. (Source). Moreover, the global probiotic market is expected to grow and be valued at 69.3USD billion by 2023. (Source)
So, what are probiotics? How do they work? What are their benefits? Should you take them? Here are the answers…
What Are Probiotics?
Our gut is filled with microorganisms, including bacteria.
Traditionally, we assume bacteria to be something bad or harmful to health. However, in reality, there are some microbes that are good, especially for our digestive system.
Now, the key to a healthy digestive system and overall health is to ensure that “good bacteria” are present in our gut in an adequate amount.
This is where probiotics come in.
Probiotics are tiny living microorganisms, including bacteria and yeasts. They are often called “good bacteria” owing to their many benefits. They are added directly to our system, through foods or/and supplements, that help maintain the natural balance of friendly microorganisms.
What Are The Benefits of Probiotics?
Many nutritionists and health coaches recommend using probiotics supplements. There’s a reason why!
There are many benefits of probiotics. Here are some:
Improves Digestive Health: There are many studies done that underline the positive effect of probiotics in our digestive system. As mentioned, they restore the natural balance of microorganisms in the gut. As a result, they improve the digestive system, treating common conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and infectious diarrhoea among others.
Helps With Mental Health: Our gut has a direct link with our brain. So, it only makes sense that an improvement in the digestive system also transcends into many benefits for our mental health. And that’s what many studies have found. Probiotic supplements can improve the symptoms of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and stress.
Enhances Immune System: A study found that taking probiotics reduces the likelihood and duration of respiratory infections. There are several other such studies that show some types of probiotics increase the production of natural antibodies in the body, preventing the growth of harmful gut bacteria, thus boosting our immune system.
There are several other benefits of probiotics, including weight loss. In fact, today, weight loss specialists highly recommend probiotic supplements. The microorganisms keep you full for a longer period, prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine, and burn more calories. Collectively, these help one cut weight and even reduce belly fat.
Admittedly, a lot more research work and empiricalevidence are required to understand the extent of benefits of probiotics. However, with whatever data is available, many health professionals now recommend probiotics to treat or supplement a number of conditions.
Should You Take Probiotics?
There are about 1,000 different species of bacteria in our gut. Many of them are classified as probiotics. However, there are two broad groups of probiotics: lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Different types of probiotics have different roles; their effects vary. While there’s no such restriction in getting these microorganisms naturally through foods (like yogurt, sour pickles, kimchi, kefir, and more), you sure must be careful when picking probiotic supplements.
You cannot just go about to take any supplements and hope for all the benefits.There come many different types available. Moreover, you will also find significant differences in the products of different brands.
So, it’s essential that you undertake your own unique needs and then find a suitable probiotic supplement. You must consider what conditions you’re trying to treat and what benefits are you expecting in return. Also, you should focus on any of the existing health conditions that you may have.
In short, it’s best to consult with a certified nutrition health coach or weight loss specialist. Work closely with them to figure out the right probiotic supplement (for the right purpose) for yourself.