The health benefits of probiotics explained
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Probiotics are the healthy or ‘friendly’ live bacteria that live inside your gut, helping it to function optimally. Up to 70 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, so a healthy, well-functioning gut can offer a wide range of benefits. Rob, who’s also founder of Vite Naturals, outlines nine research-based benefits of probiotics.
1. They aid digestion
Probiotics are made up of ‘good’ bacteria and taking them regularly can restore the natural balance of gut bacteria, said Rob.
“An imbalance of gut bacteria can mean that there are too many ‘bad’ bacteria,” Rob continued. “And as a result you may experience an unsettled digestive system which manifests itself as bloating, wind, constipation, or IBS.
“Taking a probiotic regularly or eating a diet which contains foods naturally high in good bacteria like kefir or sauerkraut could help.”
2. They are beneficial if you have had to take antibiotics for any reason
There is evidence to suggest that probiotic supplements can help cure antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.
Rob explained: “Taking antibiotics (especially for an extended period of time), can often result in diarrhoea. This is because the antibiotics kill many of the natural (and good) bacteria in your gut, which shifts the gut balance and allows harmful bacteria to thrive.
“So, by taking probiotics it aids the thriving of good bacteria in your gut.
“This reinforced the previous point that probiotics may help combat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reduce gas, bloating, constipation, and other symptoms.”
3. They can help to keep your heart healthy
Probiotics may help keep your heart healthy by lowering LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and blood pressure.
Rob advised: “There are also studies to show that the state of the microbiome plays a role in the development of heart disease, so for that reason, anything that improves the microbial balance, like probiotics, is likely to be beneficial as a preventative measure.”
4. They may help in your bid to lose weight
There has recently been a lot of research which demonstrates a connection between gut microbes and weight – both weight loss and weight gain.
Rob explained: “One primary reason is the bacteria’s effect on appetite regulation. When the balance of good to bad gut bacteria is off, the short-chain fatty acid production in the gut is increased, which triggers appetite hormone production.
“These hormones are typically involved in increasing appetite and as a result could lead to weight gain.”
5. They can boost your immune system
Many studies have found that ‘good bacteria’ can help balance the gut flora, helping produce protective substances which may help the immune system to fight off bugs.
Rob said: “The most well-known probiotic strains for boosting the immune system are the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, however research has shown that using both probiotics and prebiotics together is even more effective at boosting the immune system.
“Together, probiotics and prebiotics can exhibit a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and help to prevent a wide range of immunity-related diseases. This is partly due to the way in which prebiotics provide ‘food’ that probiotic bacteria use to grow and develop properly.
“To get adequate amounts of both, try Vite Body, a new range of capsules and snack bars which combine probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to support and aid your immune and digestive systems to function optimally.”
6. They can help to improve mental health and reduce stress
The gut-brain connection is an emerging area of research which demonstrates a direct line of communication between the brain and enteric nervous system.
Rob explained: “Researchers have shown that many mental disorders or behavioural problems can be linked to poor gut bacteria and that digestive discomfort caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria or poor digestion can contribute to poor mental health.
“The encouraging news is that probiotics appear to alleviate symptoms of mental distress and anxiety by reducing the inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, helping to improve mental health and reduce stress and anxiety.”
7. They can help with a wide range of skin conditions
There is a mounting body of evidence that suggests probiotics, whether applied topically or taken orally can help with a wide range of skin complaints including acne, rosacea, and eczema.
Rob said: “More research does need to be done in this area, but belief probiotics could be helpful stems from their ability to improve inflammation. Because some skin conditions stem from inflammation, minimising it could be helpful for managing and resolving issues.”
8. They can help with allergies
There is research to suggest that probiotics can help with allergies like hay fever, which is thought to stem from a malfunction of the immune system, which overacts to pollen from grasses, trees, and flowers.
Rob advised: “As probiotics can help to regulate immune responses and reduce inflammation, probiotics could be beneficial in helping to deal with and manage allergies such as hay fever.”
9. They could help to tackle migraines
It is believed that inflammation stemming from poor gut health may contribute to inflammation of major pain pathways in the brain, which could be the trigger for migraine attacks.
“This is an emerging area of study, but to date,” said Rob. “Results are positive suggesting that probiotics used long-term can help to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks.”
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