There’s a tiny army of bacteria in your gut, that helps protect you from disease, transports nutrients, helps with smoother digestion, builds a stronger immune system, and can even boost your brain function. They’re called Probiotics, and they just might be the secret to your health and wellness.
Probiotics for Anxiety
Anxiety is a pretty normal thing nowadays! Because of the fast pace of society, increasing responsibility, and essentially being pulled in 20 different directions a day, anxiety is a normal response to situations in life that are unfamiliar. So what does anxiety have to do with probiotics? Your gut microbiome is scientifically and clinically proven to affect how your mood and other cognitive functions, like anxiety. This is commonly referred to as the gut-brain axis and healthy levels of probiotics, especially taken as a supplement, are proven to reduce the causes of anxiety altogether.
Probiotics have the ability to restore normal microbial balance within the gut that reduces Dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut, linked to alleviating anxiety and depressive symptoms.1 In more commonly understood terms, particular strains (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) produce neurotransmitters to produce a calming effect on the body. Probiotics can actually control the pathogens that induce anxiety by interacting with the enteric nervous system in the gut and the vagal nerve.2 This results in an elevated mood and reduced causes of anxiety.
**Please note: if you’re being medically treated for anxiety please do not stop taking your medications and consult your physician before making any abrupt changes.
Probiotics for Immune System Health & Support
There are numerous variations of bacteria that cause infection, the flu, colds and even diseases. These bad bacteria need a host to survive, and unfortunately, they choose you. Think of them as little invaders and you’re home turf. Once inside, your immune response must be strong enough to oppose the invaders to overcome and excrete them. An overlooked component of your immune system is the role of probiotics in maintaining a healthy and strong immune system prior to getting an infection or sickness. Probiotics mediate action in host immune response while exerting different levels of immune-regulatory effects.3 We recommending taking a supplement that has a strong presence of Lactobacillus, such as this one.
Probiotics Improve Digestion
Ever experience digestion issues? Most people do, and chances are, you aren’t exempt from this unsettling experience. All of us can benefit from supplementing with probiotics to improve poor digestion (read more about digestive issues here). Probiotics are great at maintaining the proper pH levels within your body for optimal digestion while also helping to break down foods so they can be absorbed into the rest of the body.4 You can get probiotics from both supplements and fermented foods (learn more here).
Probiotics Improve Lactose Intolerance
Over 60 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose due to low levels of lactase enzyme activity. Lactose intolerance can be smelly, uncomfortable, and just plain annoying. Aside from cutting lactose (two-part sugar in dairy) all together, there may be improvements you can make in your nutritional lifestyle that will improve a poor lactose response. When you supplement your diet with non-lactose containing dairy products, the products that you’re consuming are processed with lactase to lessen the naturally present lactose. The source of lactase, in most commercial cases, is going to be yeast. Gut microbes can digest lactose and lactose is actually the preferred form of energy for probiotic strains such as Streptococcus Thermophiles, Bifidobacterium, and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. By improving the amount of these probiotic strains within the GI system, you can actually help repair the gut so that you can once again produce lactase within the body. Studies have shown a positive relationship between probiotics and lactose intolerance.5
Probiotics Ease PMS Symptoms
About 5–8% of women suffer from severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS); most of these women also meet the criteria for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Mood and behavioral symptoms, including irritability, tension, depressed mood, tearfulness, and mood swings, are the most distressing, but somatic complaints, such as breast tenderness and bloating, can also be problematic.6 Probiotics can positively influence mood symptoms including many of the ones expressed prior to menstruation. Probiotics can also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress by positively influencing your immune response to hormonal changes within the body.7
Probiotics Help with Weight Loss
While there’s probably a good handful of things contributing to your inability to lose weight, supplementing with probiotics can help you along your weight loss journey in a very positive way. One thing that is very often overlooked during a weight loss journey is the condition of the gut and the microbiota. Your microbiome influences a lot of the signals that get sent back and forth between the stomach and the brain. This means your cravings, your food choices, appetite, body composition and weight can all be positively or negatively influenced by what is going on in your gut.
Dysbiosis is the name given to explain the negative imbalance in the gut. When there are more pathogens then antigens (more bad bacteria than good bacteria) the gut becomes inflamed. Insulin and other hormones become imbalanced, food doesn’t get absorbed as well, and suddenly you’ve gotten yourself into a pickle. Loss of ‘health-promoting’ microbes and overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria is believed to contribute to infections, sepsis, and even organ failure.8 Probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can positively affect blood glucose levels, thyroid function, insulin resistance and other metabolic functions that contribute to weight loss and reductions of gut inflammation.9
Use of Probiotics in Preventative Medicine
There are literally hundreds of uses of probiotics and these are just a few of the highlights we chose to focus on. While there will never be a magic pill that alleviates signs and symptoms of negative health conditions, there are preventative measures that you can take to improve your overall health, wellness, and disease prevention. After all, we might not live forever, but in the years we do live we ought to make them the very best quality that they can possibly be. Wouldn’t you agree? Life happens, probiotics help, a lot!