People are used to thinking negatively of microorganisms and bacteria. However, many of these bacteria are essential for the human body. Some produce vitamins or help digest food, and others have health benefits for the gut and the immune system.
The human body contains both bacteria types, the good and evil, the beneficial and harmful types, and millions of germs and parasites. Those microorganisms have to be in balance for a person to be in good health .
Probiotics work principally to achieve a healthy balance of gut bacteria. They have health benefits to their human host if consumed in proper amounts in fermented foods or dietary supplements.
A survey done between 2007 -2012 shows that 1.6% of adults and 0.5% of children in the United States had used probiotics or prebiotics 30 days before the survey . Due to the increasing awareness among the people of the importance of probiotics, producing and selling probiotics became a growing industry today in the United States, attracting exhaustive research of its impact on human health.
5 Benefits Of Probiotics For Your Health
Many studies tried to evaluate the benefits of probiotics. In this article, we review the top five benefits of probiotics based on multiple clinical studies.
1. Preventing And Treating Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorders
Using probiotics has been very effective in treating various GI disorders such as infectious diarrhea, diarrhea caused by clostridium difficle, food allergies, and IBD .
Probiotics can change the intestinal microflora, yet their efficacy depends on the types of species or strain used. For instance, using S. boulardii and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) probiotics is efficient for Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (AAD), and B. infantis 35624 for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) .
Milk, yogurt, and many fermented dairy products recognized as probiotics can help treat Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms (IBD). They contain a combination of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria probiotics, which alter the gut microbiota to prevent and treat IBD .
Acute infectious diarrhea is diagnosed when one is suffering from diarrhea more than three times within 24 hours. The treatment course of acute infectious diarrhea has recently been changed to encourage the usage of probiotics.
Using probiotics in fermented food or dietary supplements with probiotic microorganisms is recommended to accelerate diarrhea recovery when added to drinking fluids, eating gentle food, and replacing lost electrolytes .
Diarrhea is also a common side effect of using antibiotics due to its impact on intestine balance. Probiotics were able to reduce the risk of Antibiotic-associated diarrhea by about 51%. Especially the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii probiotics strains confirmed the study results .
A meta-analysis confirmed the general safety of using probiotics in treating diarrhea. The most effective strains of probiotics studied were Lactobacillus GG, Bacillus coagulans, and S. boulardii. Nevertheless, research suggests using them with caution in patients with an immune system or intestinal mucosa disorder .
2. Controlling Eczema And Allergies
Eczema is an assembly condition that causes inflammation and itching of the skin. It can be mild or severe, and all age groups could get infected by it. Over 31 million people in the United States suffer from some type of eczema. The most common symptoms of eczema are itching, swelling areas, dryness, and scaly patches of skin.
Especially among infants, probiotics were significantly efficient in reducing the risks of eczema when included in the diet of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. In a study including 205 infants, using Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LPR) and Bifidobacterium longum (BL999) probiotics before and after delivery over two months reduced the risks of eczema among 6, 12, and 24 months old infants by about 95% .
Another study demonstrates the impact of some probiotics strains in altering the damage caused by allergic inflammation and counteract the inflammatory responses. The research promises the potential of probiotic usage in food processing to prevent and treat allergies .
3. Losing Weight
There is growing evidence that pre and probiotics are beneficial in treating obesity and metabolic syndrome. The research suggests that supplements incorporating fermentable carbohydrates or strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics help controlling body weight and improve many metabolic parameters such as systemic inflammation, glycemic control, and energy intakes .
Several human and animal studies showed that the studied probiotic supplementations have anti-obesogenic properties and effectively intervene with obesity disorders. Many improvements in other metabolic parameters often accompanied the reduction in body mass without changing energy intakes among studied subjects .
Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 formulation is a strain of probiotics that has been investigated for weight loss among male and female patients. The formulation efficiently induced weight loss, especially among female participants, who managed over 24 weeks to achieve sustainable weight loss .
In a rodent study, using milk fermented by Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 (LGSP) probiotic efficiently regulated adipose tissue growth, thus inhibited dietary fat absorption .
4. Preventing Infections
Probiotics are recognized as one of the main methods to alter gut microbiota to treat inflammation. This impact has an extended role in improving the function of the immune system against infections.
The intestinal epithelium is a single layer that forms a kind of lining for the colon of the gastrointestinal tract.
Researchers have investigated the potential of live probiotics in protecting the intestinal epithelium from the bacterial infection of enteroinvasive Escherichia coli.
The study used two types of probiotics; Streptococcus thermophilus (ST), and Lactobacillus acidophilus (LA). The probiotics managed to interact with intestinal epithelium and protect them from the infection risk .
Probiotic milk formed of milk with Lactobacillus GG may reduce respiratory infections in children. The research came with these results after a placebo-controlled study involving 571 children aged between 1 and 6 years whose average daily milk consumption was about 260 ml. The group taking the probiotic milk have suffered significantly fewer respiratory tract infections than the placebo group .
5. Benefits Of Probiotics On Heart Health
Probiotics can influence cholesterol removal and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Several suggested mechanisms explain the role of probiotics in cholesterol removal, such as removal by growing cells, binding of cholesterol to the cellular surface, and incorporating cholesterol into the cellular membrane .
Research suggests that using probiotics can regulate blood pressure. The analyzed data show that taking probiotics supplements could improve blood pressure. Better results are expected when baseline blood pressure is elevated, multiple types of probiotics are combined in the treatment, and the duration of the intervention is longer than eight weeks .
Benefits Of Probiotics For Your Health: Summing Up
Probiotics are being recognized among consumers for their rich health benefits. Multiple research papers support these health claims and relating them to the role of probiotics in keeping a healthy gut-bacterial balance.
The mechanisms induced by probiotics can alter the intestinal microflora to help treat IBS and different diarrhea forms. As probiotics can help improve inflammation, they are also recommended in cholesterol removal and blood pressure regulation. Furthermore, probiotics can also be efficient in preventing allergies, eczema, and colon infections, especially in children and infants.
Read more here to learn about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics and which you should be taking.