The human body is a complex relationship of cells and microorganisms that work together to perform numerous functions. Bacteria of all kinds thrive in your intestines making your gut a ‘lively’ happening place. Dr. Geoffrey Preidis (Asst. professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston) states, “There are many, many microbes that inhabit various niches within the intestine. Many of them work together and depend on each other.” This is the case with probiotics. Probiotics replenish the good bacteria in the gut which can help boost immunity and protect the gut.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are “live organisms that can be found in fermented foods and cultured milk,” and are commonly called good bacteria. Aside from these food sources, probiotics can be taken as a supplement to help diversify your gut microbiome.
What's the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Prebiotics are very different than probiotics. Prebiotics are the fuel (or food source) used by probiotics to multiply and grow in your gut. The best sources of prebiotics are inulin, chicory, dandelion greens, onions, garlic, asparagus, bananas, apples, barley and oats. Consistently consuming fiber-rich foods can help boost gut health by making sure your probiotics are nourished and can populate.
Benefits of probiotics
Probiotics have been some of the most studied topics in human health. As a result, there have been many published benefits of taking probiotics for your health. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Improving gut health – probiotics can reduce your risk of gastrointestinal issues and help maintain a healthy gut.
- Boost immune system – probiotics can stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory molecules (cytokines) and moderate white blood cell action to prevent diseases.
- Decrease inflammation – studies indicate that certain probiotics, like Bifidobacterium infantis, can help reduce inflammation
- Improve cognitive function – probiotics can boost memory and help maintain brain function to manage anxiety, depression, autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Improves nutrient bioavailability - Certain probiotics, such as Lactobacillus fermentum, can increase the absorption (bioavailability) of calcium, zinc and phosphorous, while other probiotics can help produce vitamins like riboflavin (B2) and methylcobalamin (B12).
- Assists with weight loss - probiotics have been found to help you lose weight and decrease belly fat.
- Improves insulin sensitivity - probiotics help control blood sugar levels by making cells more sensitive to insulin. They’ve also been shown to help maintain and improve good cholesterol levels
Strains of Probiotics
Your intestines host approximately 100 trillion microorganisms from more than 500 different species, according to Harvard Medical School. Probiotics work by changing the composition of the bacteria in your gut. For instance, the good bacteria can crowd out the bad bacteria and prevent them from multiplying. This will reduce the ability of the bad bacteria to cause infection or inflammation.
The American College of Gastroenterology published research that shows each different strain of probiotics have different functions. Here’s some interesting information about some of the probiotic strains.
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