If you’re looking for an easy way to improve your overall health, try adding probiotics to your to your regime. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health. Your body produces them naturally but many studies are finding that taking probiotic supplements can help treat and prevent illnesses as well as having a positive effect on your digestive system. Such as . . .
Strengthen your immunity
There is a strong correlation to the bacteria in your guts and your immune system. In one study, a group was given a combination of probiotics, vitamins and minerals while the other group was give placebos. They were then asked to report on how often they became sick through winter and spring. The group taking the probiotic combination experienced 25% fewer influenza symptoms, 19% fewer cold symptoms and 50% fewer days with a fever than the placebo group.
Promotes weight loss
While there is no magic pill to weight loss, probiotics have been found to help reduce gut inflammation and help with weight loss. The bacteria in our guts helps with nutrient intake and by supporting these bacteria some studies have found that it reduces the markers of obesity.
Promotes digestive health
Probiotics can help reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea, constipation and diarrhea associated with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s.
Depression and anxiety
Some research (PDF alert) has found that when your gut bacteria is out of balance that it can have a negative effect on your mood. For example, stress and anxiety can cause gastrointestinal distress and studies have found that probiotics can help reduce the stress response of anxiety and depression.
The same reasons that gut bacteria can affect your mental health, it can also affect your skin. One study has drawn a theory about the co-morbidity of mental health issues and chronic skin conditions. The study also claims that probiotics can help treat acne and potentially other chronic skin conditions.
While there are a wide variety of different types of probiotics, these are the 2 main types: lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. When choosing probiotic products make sure that label contains the full name of the probiotic, the colony numbers and the scientific benefits of each of the strains. Sometimes what looks like a probiotic, isn’t. For example, in yogurt, avoid products that only list L. Bulgaricus and S. Thermophilus as these two just help turn the milk into yogurt and don’t have any probiotic benefits.
Another item to be aware of is that many companies develop, study and patent their own probiotics. Dannon Activia is one such example. The company created and patented bifidobacterium lactis. So while their claims might be true it’s also good to know that the benefits that they state for their products are for their own benefit.
Danielle Roberts is a Canadian freelance writer currently based out of Calgary. A self-professed dweeb with a dash of geek, Danielle attained a BA in English at the University of Calgary back in 2010. She has an obsession with running and cats and also loves to read, write and listen to angry music. You can follow her on twitter @PluviophileRead or check out her website.