Should I Be Taking A Probiotic? A Quick Look Into Probiotics and Their Health Benefits!

Hi everyone! I hope you are all well and having the best week! Today I want to get into some science and dive into a very popular and interesting topic, probiotics! I am sure you have considered taking a probiotic before, you probably take a probiotic! Which is great, but do you really know why? There are a host of benefits from taking/eating probiotics, and you need to hear them! So, sit back and read this very simplified and easily digestible (pun intended) blog post on this Wednesday evening!

DO YOU PREFER LISTENING TO YOUR INFO? I uploaded a podcast on this topic too! I often make a blog post along with a podcast when it’s an interesting and important topic. Podcasts are great, but it’s also great having a written format of very important information. If you would rather, give the podcast a listen and then come back to this blog post and start applying this information! You can even play it and read at the same time! (Well done to you if you can do that).

In this blog post:

  1. What are probiotics?
  2. Sources of probiotics.
  3. The changes that occur in the body following the intake of probiotics.
  4. Health benefits of probiotics and why you may benefit from taking one.
  5. A mention of Prebiotics and their role.
  6. A good probiotic and sources of probiotic and prebiotic rich foods. 

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are usually given or taken to improve microbial balance, most commonly in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics consist of Saccharomyces boulardii yeast or lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, and are usually taken as dietary supplements and/ or in foods (Williams, 2010).

Sources of Probiotics.

Probiotic dietary supplements and/or foods such as:

  1. Yogurt (particularly kefir yogurt)
  2. Kimchi
  3. Kombucha
  4. Miso and other fermented food products. 

The Changes That Occur in Your Body Following the Intake of Probiotics.

Probiotics have been shown to have several beneficial changes in the gastrointestinal tract such as, lowering the intestinal pH of the gut, decreasing colonisation by invasion of pathogens, and modifying the immune response (Williams, 2010). Another study by Raman et al (2013) suggest the probiotic mechanisms shown to be anticancerous and antimutagenic are as follows, binding, inhibition, and degradation of mutagens via probiotic intake, prevention and conversion of toxic and highly reactive carcinogens, probiotic use can also lower the pH in the gastrointestinal tract and increase immune response through the release of anti-inflammatory molecules (Raman et al., 2013).

To simplify this a little bit. Probiotics can increase the immune system and help to prevent the incidence of infections and pathogens causing common colds, infections and diseases. Probiotics have been shown to reduce oxidative stress (causes DNA damage and ultimately, disease) and lower the pH of the gut. The body must be slightly alkaline at all times for an optimal environment for good bacteria and to promote the wellbeing of the organs, tissues and cells. This pH balance can get more acidic when we have unhealthy lifestyles such as too much meat, dairy, salt, sugar and fats and too little fruit, vegetables, wholegrain, beans, nuts, seeds, and physical activity. Probiotics can help with the acidity of the gut.

Basically, probiotics are easy to consume and GREAT for your health.

Health Benefits of Probiotics and Why You May Consider Taking One.

There are many benefits of taking a probiotic (some I touched on above). Here is a quick list of the benefits:

  1. Improved gut health.
  2. Improved immune response.
  3. Reduction of cholesterol (contributed to heart disease).
  4. Decrease the symptoms of allergies such as hay fever (start taking a probiotic asap to help with your hay fever this summer)!
  5. Improve lactose intolerant symptoms.

The improvement of your gut health can improve so many other aspects of your health including, your skin, reduced risk of chronic disease and overall gastrointestinal discomfort.

A Mention of Prebiotics and Their Role.

Prebiotics are another friendly bacterium that aids in improving the availability and survival rate of probiotics (the likelihood of them reaching your gut). They feed probiotics.

Benefits of Prebiotics:

  1. Increased weight loss (improved feeling of fullness due to fibre).
  2. Cancer prevention.
  3. Improved immune system.
  4. Enhanced mineral bioavailability.

Sources of Prebiotics

  • garlic
  • onion
  • leeks
  • bananas
  • asparagus

You can find prebiotic supplements, or synbiotics (combined pre and probiotics) but food sources of prebiotics are amazing and have a whole host of other nutrients. When taken together (pre and probiotics) they work synergistically and complement each other. Ensuring that you eat plenty fruits and vegetables (especially ones above) and take a good probiotic or eat probiotic rich foods regularly will help improve your gut health.

A Good Probiotic.

IMPORTANT: Please consult your doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you are already taking medications. This acts as a suggestion to point you in the right direction. It is important to consult your doctor on this matter. Alternatively, try adding some of the pro and prebiotic rich foods into your diet that I mentioned in this post.

That’s it for this week’s blog post! I hope you liked this post!

As always, thank you so much for reading,

Love,

Mairi

References

Williams, N.T., 2010. Probiotics. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy67(6), pp.449-458.

Raman, M., Ambalam, P., Kondepudi, K.K., Pithva, S., Kothari, C., Patel, A.T., Purama, R.K., Dave, J.M. and Vyas, B.R.M., 2013. Potential of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics for management of colorectal cancer. Gut microbes4(3), pp.181-192.

 

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