Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of all of the important reasons to take probiotics. I think many are under the assumption that it’s just for people with gastrointestinal issues or health nuts. While taking probiotics certainly does help digestive issues and it’s a healthy habit, there are so many more valid reasons to take probiotics on a daily basis. They fill our bellies with good bacteria, which can often be lacking, and there’s quite a list of non-digestive related benefits for everyone as well.
1. Allergic Rhinitis
For me, one of the most compelling reasons to take probiotics was because of the research that supported taking probiotics for the treatment of allergies, namely allergic rhinitis, which is an allergic inflammation of the nasal pathways. Studies that were published in the Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology and Annals of Allergy and Immunology found improvement in symptoms and prevention of recurrences of allergic rhinitis when participants took probiotics.
2. Food Sensitivities
Having food sensitivities is the absolute pits. Not only does it prevent you from enjoying certain types of foods, you feel awful after you eat them. Sometimes, a food sensitivity or intolerance can be due to a disturbance of normal, healthy bacteria in the large intestine. Though this isn’t always the case, research by the journal of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that food allergies can be improved with the right nutritional protocol, which includes the supplementation of beneficial probiotic bacteria.
3. Immune Support
No one has time to get sick these days and taking probiotics has been shown to help boost your immune system. WebMD featured an article on probiotics where Dr. Stefano Guandalini of University of Chicago Medical Center stated that, “In societies with very good hygiene, we’ve seen a sharp increase in autoimmune and allergic diseases. That may be because the immune system isn’t being properly challenged by pathogenic organisms. Introducing friendly bacteria in the form of probiotics is believed to challenge the immune system in healthy ways.”
4. Urogential Problems
No one likes talking about vaginal infections, but having them is even worse. There are a number of things that can throw off the balance of microflora in the vagina, such as antibiotics, birth control and spermicides. Probiotics can help restore that delicate balance, which can be helpful with many common female urogenital problems such as vaginosis, urinary tract infections and yeast infections, says Harvard Health.
5. Improve Energy
Did you know that taking probiotics can actually help improve your energy levels? There might not appear to be direct link to your gut and energy levels, but there is! Probiotics can recolonize your bowels with healthy bacteria to improve absorption of vitamins, proteins and minerals, restore balance to intestinal flora, crowd out the bad bacteria and organisms that cause diseases and keep harmful organisms under control. All of these things can contribute to improved energy and well-being!
6. Mood Support
Have you ever heard the saying that your gut is your second brain? The reason why your gut got that name is because there is an extensive network of neurons in our bellies that allows us to “feel” the inner world of our gut. Emeran Mayer, a professor at UCLA, says, "A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut." You know the feeling of butterflies in your stomach? That’s a prime example of what the “second brain” or enteric nervous system does. Another interesting fact about our gut is that 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is found in the gut. Having a healthy gut can help support a more balanced mood.
7. Increased Metabolism
A study published in Molecular Systems Biology found that probiotics can have a noticeable effect on metabolism. Another study published in Science Translational Medicine conducted two four-month experiments on mice and human twins where they consumed probiotic yogurt and analyzed the gut composition and behavior patterns before, during and after eating the yogurt. They found via urinalysis that there were significant changes in the activity of enzymes involved in metabolism of the mice.
8. You Take Antibiotics
Antibiotics can be helpful in treating certain conditions, however they can wreak havoc on our gut. Antibiotics wipe out bad bacteria, which contributes to diseases but also takes out the friendly type that helps keep our gut healthy as well. There is also a study that shows that you can prevent and improve antibiotic-associated diarrhea with probiotics.
9. You Eat a Lot of Processed Food
We all know that processed food is a no-no and having a diet high in processed foods and low fiber can overwhelm the beneficial bacteria in the gut and reduce colon function, says Natural News. Processed foods also contain tons of additives, preservatives and salt in order to make it last longer and improve taste with no known health benefits. Cut back on the number of processed foods you eat to keep your gut happy!
Probiotics can be helpful in so many ways, but make sure you take it up with your doctor before you start. There are lots of different brands and types of probiotics so it’s best to get some guidance before you purchase anything. You can also incorporate more probiotic foods into your diet, such as kefir, kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup and kimchi to name a few. Do you take any probiotics?
Sources: jama.jamanetwork.com, naturalnews.com, mindbodygreen.com, health.usnews.com, health.harvard.edu, jn.nutrition.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, foodsmatter.com, naturalnews.com, webmd.com, askanaturopath.com, scientificamerican.com, scopeblog.stanford.edu, drweil.com, thecandidadiet.com, mindbodygreen.com