Probiotics promote health by balancing the gut bacteria which simultaneously have been linked to various health benefits. Taking a probiotic can be good for you, especially if you are unable to get the amount of probiotics from a normal diet. The health benefits of probiotics include benefits in weight loss, digestive health and immune function.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are all considered good for you, especially within your digestive system. Your body has both good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are considered good bacteria which help keep your gut healthy. Hence don’t confuse probiotics with bad bacteria, they are quite the contrary.
Many people opt to attain probiotics from supplementation, while others rely on a naturally balanced diet to source probiotics. There are a host of foods that contain probiotics, including yoghurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and miso.
Even if you find yourself on a vegan diet, you don’t always have to opt for probiotic supplementation. There are reliable sources of probiotics that you can source from your diet alone. For more into the various sources of probiotics on a vegan diet, read our article on, ‘Probiotics for Vegans: The 12 Best Sources of Plant-Based Probiotics.‘
There are various reasons why you should take a probiotic supplement or source sufficient probiotics from your diet. Hence, before we go to answer any questions you may have about probiotic supplementation, let’s first try to understand why probiotics are important through a review of the health benefits of probiotics.
Health Benefits of Probiotics: A Review
There are a host of reasons why probiotics are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have proven that the balance or the imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system has been linked to the over the health of the person.
So what are the various health benefits of probiotics?
1. Promotes the Balance of Healthy Bacteria in Your Digestive System
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are considered as ‘good’ bacteria, which brings various health benefits when consumed. The benefits are brought about by the ability of probiotics to restore the natural balance of the gut.
When there is too much bad bacteria in your gut and not enough good bacteria, there results in an imbalance. The imbalance could be caused by various things such as poor nutritional diet, use of medications such as antibiotics or even due to illness.
As a result of the imbalance caused by the lack of probiotics in your system, you could notice a host of consequences, including, digestive issues, allergies, mental health problems and obesity.
The ability of probiotics to balance the gut is considered the most important benefit, which prevents all the consequences brought about by an imbalanced gut.
2. Prevents and Treats Diarrhea
If you ever find yourself suffering from diarrhoea, eating something that contains probiotics can quickly work to resolve the condition. Not only do probiotics reduce the severity of diarrhoea, but they can also prevent it altogether.
Diarrhoea is commonly associated with taking antibiotics. This is because, antibiotics affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, thereby causing diarrhoea. When this happens, it is important to get an added boost of probiotics, either from diet or supplementation.
Hence, if you find yourself suffering from diarrhoea, know that studies have proven probiotics to be an effective tool in reducing the severity of the condition.
3. Improves Mental Health Conditions
Probiotics actually help in elevating mood and can be an excellent tool in improving mental health. A study proved that using probiotic supplements actually helped to improve some mental health disorders.
A study highlighted how supplementing with probiotics that contain strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus for a few months, improved anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and memory.
The benefits of probiotics on patients who suffered from depression, anxiety and stress have been clearly established through various studies conducted by the scientific community. Overall, if you suffer from a mental health disorder, taking a probiotic supplementation could work to greatly improve your condition, thereby improving your quality of life.
4. Certain Probiotics Can Aid Heart Health
Probiotics work to lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your body. LDL is also better known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Probiotics also work to lower blood pressure. When you combine both these elements, it isn’t difficult to see how probiotics actually help you maintain a healthy heart.
Lactic-acid producing bacteria can actually work to reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in your gut. This prevents bile from being reabsorbed into the blood as cholesterol.
A study even went on to note that probiotics actually work to boost the amount of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol in your body.
Probiotics have been noted to have direct correlations with heart health. Hence, taking a probiotic supplementation could help you reap the added benefit of better heart health. Obviously, you can also reap these benefits by including as much probiotic-rich food in your diet as possible.
5. Fights Allergies
Probiotics have been known to fight certain allergies and have been proven to reduce the severity of eczema in children and infants.
When infants were fed probiotic-supplemented milk, the symptoms of eczema were noted to have improved. Another study linked a lowered risk of developing eczema in children in women who took probiotics during pregnancy.
For people who have milk or dairy allergies, probiotics have been linked to reducing inflammatory responses. All this go to highlight the fact that probiotics can help those who suffer from allergies and can work to improve their quality of life.
6. Reduced Symptoms of Digestive Disorders
Inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is common. Over one million people in the US suffer from such conditions.
Certain strains of probiotics have been found to aid and improve the symptoms of people who suffered from mild ulcerative colitis. Probiotic supplementation can reduce remission in people with ulcerative colitis and can be an effective means of combating the condition.
Probiotics have been noted to have various benefits for those who suffer from bowel disorders. It can even help those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics work to reduce the severity of these conditions and can work to relieve the symptoms of various digestive disorders.
7. Boosts Your Immune System
Probiotics actually work to inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria, which resultantly enables you to boost your immune system.
Probiotics have actually been studied to promote the production of natural antibodies, which obviously results in better immune health.
The likelihood and duration of respiratory infections are reduced in those who take probiotics and can work to reduce the severity of respiratory infections.
Another benefit of probiotics is the fact that they help to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
8. Helps Weight Loss
Probiotics actually help with weight loss through various mechanisms. For instance, there are some probiotics that work to prevent the absorption of dietary fat in your gut. With the fat not being absorbed by the body, it is naturally excreted through faeces.
Probiotics also help control your appetite by making you feel fuller for longer. This enables you to consume fewer calories, burn more calories and thereby reduce fat build-up.
A study noted that women who took probiotics lost 50% more weight than those who didn’t take probiotics. This undoubtedly goes to prove the effectiveness of probiotics in weight loss.
Probiotics can be a great addition to your workout and diet to ensure that you get the best results for your effort.
Are Probiotics Good for You to Take Everyday?
Though there are certain cases in which it is not recommended to take probiotics every day, generally, it is considered safe and recommended to take probiotics every day. Probiotics are not a type of medicine; they are a natural supplement that works to aid and boost overall health.
With the host of health benefits that we discussed herewith, it goes without saying that taking a probiotic every day would work to help your health as opposed to hampering it. That being the case, we did mention that in certain exceptions, taking probiotic supplements every day is not recommended.
So who does this apply to? Who should not take probiotics? Are there any risks of taking probiotic supplementations, and if so, should you simply stick to getting probiotics from your diet alone?
Who Should Not Take Probiotics
When it comes to probiotics, the general rule of thumb states it to be healthy and safe. However, if you have suffered from a severe illness or have a compromised immune system, then it is not advisable to take probiotic supplementation frequently. This is because the weak immune system could work against you and make you sick.
Further to this, people who had compromised immune systems were noted to experience bacterial and fungal infections when they increased the consumption of probiotics.
Further to this, some medications may interact with certain probiotics, including various antibiotics and antifungals. Hence for some people, probiotics may do more harm than good.
Hence probiotic supplements, though beneficial is not recommended for everyone. For those who do find themselves falling within this category, you should consider sticking to a naturally balanced diet and source probiotics naturally as opposed to supplementing them.
Side Effects of Taking Probiotics
The microbes that you find in probiotics already naturally exist in your body. Thus, regardless of whether you consume probiotics from food or supplementation, it is generally considered safe. However, if consumed daily, probiotics could trigger certain allergic reactions and may cause an upset stomach, flatulence and bloating for the first few days.
One of the primary side effects of probiotics would be unpleasant digestive symptoms. Though most people do not experience side effects of probiotics, temporary digestive issues such as an upset stomach, gas and bloating may result. Yeast-based probiotics could cause constipation and increased thirst.
Another side effect is the headaches caused by amines in probiotics. This is because amines can excite the central nervous system and cause an increased or decreased blood flow, which would trigger headaches in those who are sensitive.
Probiotics could also increase histamine levels which could cause redness and swelling in the areas affected and can cause allergic reactions such as itching, watery eyes, runny nose or breathing difficulties.
Certain ingredients in probiotics cause adverse reactions especially if you are lactose intolerant and consume a milk-based probiotic.
Lastly, the risk for those who have suppressed immune systems who could suffer from an increased risk of infection. Though the risk of developing an infection is rather low and not serious, you should avoid probiotic supplementation and frequent probiotic consumption if you have a suppressed immune system, have been hospitalised for a prolonged duration or have recently undergone surgery.
What are the Signs You Need Probiotics?
There are some clear cut signs that could help you identify if you require probiotics. These include digestive irregularities. If you suffer from digestive irregularities, then you should opt for probiotics.
Another sign that you would benefit from probiotics is your sugar cravings. If you find that your sugar cravings are through the roof and are uncontrollable in every way, then you would benefit from taking probiotics. You don’t have to opt for supplementation and can reap the benefits of probiotics from a diet rich in probiotics.
If you’ve noticed that your metabolism is a bit slow, this could be caused by the imbalance of gut bacteria in your body. In such circumstances, you would benefit from taking probiotics.
Another thing to remember is any antibiotic course that you may have been on. If you’ve taken an antibiotic, even if it was some time ago, your gut bacteria balance may be varied to the norm. In such circumstances, you would benefit from taking probiotics.
Apart from all the signs mentioned which should point to probiotics, one of the most obvious signs is any skin issue that you would be facing. Eczema, psoriasis or itchy rashes, all such skin conditions could be a link to gut bacteria. Adding a good amount of probiotics into your system could help relieve you of these conditions. If you suffer from such conditions, you should take it as a sign that your gut bacteria balance is off and that adding probiotics would help.
Signs Probiotics are Working
There are various things that you can note to establish the fact that probiotics are working for you. For instance, you could notice that you have improved digestion and improved digestive health. You would also find that you have more energy. Your skin would be clearing out and your mood would become elevated. These are all signs that probiotics are working.
Probiotics usually take about 2 to 3 weeks for you to notice significant benefits. Hence, if you have opted to take a probiotic supplementation, don’t expect results from the first day. In fact, as mentioned, you may experience bloating and gas for the first few days. Award yourself a few weeks to notice the positive results of using probiotics.
Overall, if you award sufficient time to notice the positive results, you will notice that you are pooping regularly and suffer from less bloating. As mentioned, you would have a stable mood and would have a better outlook on life. Coupled with this, you should also notice that you have better immunity and fewer yeast infections.
You may also notice positive results from the look and feel of your skin. Any skin problem that you may have had would be fading away, leaving behind healthier and better skin.
What Happens When You Stop Taking Probiotics?
When you stop taking probiotics, your gut bacteria will most likely return to the pre-supplementation condition within a week or so. The good bacteria in your gut require food to survive. Without the probiotic supplementation coming in, the good bacteria die out. All the benefits that you would have noticed with taking probiotics could start to fade.
That being the case, if the gas, bloating or other side effects continue for more than a few weeks, you should stop taking probiotics and consult a medical professional. As mentioned, though side effects of probiotics are rare, it does happen in some people. If you experience these side effects, you should stop taking probiotics after giving them a week or two.
As for a break from probiotics, it is considered safe to walk away from any probiotic supplementation for a while and assess how your body is feeling. After all, you know your body better than anyone else. You can take a short break to notice any difference and consider whether to continue probiotic supplementation or not.
Long term use of probiotics is not generally considered unsafe. However as mentioned, if you have had recent surgery, or have noticed prolonged side effects or suffer from immune system problems, you should avoid taking probiotics and not take probiotics without medical consultation.
Should I Take a Probiotic Supplement?
Generally, the side effects of probiotics are rare. Hence, you can safely take a probiotic supplement and reap the benefits of ‘good’ bacteria. However, if you notice prolonged side effects or suffer from immune system problems or have recently undergone surgery, you should avoid probiotic supplementation and consult a healthcare professional first.
As mentioned within this article, it is generally considered safe to take probiotic supplementation every day. In fact, it is recommended to do so. However, since probiotics are a natural supplement and not a medicine, you should be careful when you source your probiotics. After all, you could anticipate taking probiotics for a long time.
Since natural supplementations do not require FDA approval, it is important you find a reliable source of probiotic supplementation. With so much choice, it isn’t always clear whether the probiotics that you find in pharmacies and health food stores are high-quality products. In fact, some low-quality products may not even contain the probiotic bacteria that are listed on the label.
Hence, when you are looking to choose a probiotic supplement, go with a trusted source that you can rely on for good results. Otherwise, you can always source probiotics from a probiotic-rich diet.
Is Taking a Probiotic Good for You?
Yes, taking a probiotic can be good for you and brings with it loads of health benefits. However, if you suffer from immune system problems, have recently undergone surgery or notice prolonged side effects, then an increased consumption of probiotics through supplementation or food may not be for you.
As discussed within this article, there are many health benefits of probiotics and they can be a great addition to your lifestyle to ensure better health. Whether you choose to supplement probiotics or source them through a probiotic-rich balanced diet, you stand to reap the benefits of them.
However, as mentioned repeated in this article, if you notice prolonged side effects, you should stop taking probiotics and consult a healthcare professional. Though probiotics are not for everyone, they can be a great addition to your healthy lifestyle if you are able to add them.
We hope that reading this word to word has provided you with some good insight into probiotics. We aimed to provide you with an information source that you can rely on to get the answers to questions you may have about probiotics.
Once again, probiotics can be a great way to stay in optimum health, hence source them through your diet or supplement into your lifestyle if possible. You will thank yourself for it in the long run!