Top 10 Health Benefits of Probiotics
Many people are skeptical at the thought of using bacteria to promote healing. But, there are all kinds of bacteria, some are good and some are bad. Sometimes, good bacteria are necessary to undo the work of bad bacteria. These types of “good bacteria” are called probiotics. Research is still trying to unravel all of the health benefits of probiotics, but it is becoming more and more evident that they are abundantly useful for various digestive disorders and functions. Probiotics benefits are still being explored; however their primary function tends to be restoring and bringing balance to bacteria levels.
Indigestion symptoms are specifically thought to benefit from probiotics. Symptoms such as stomach bloating, gas, diarrhea and nausea may be remedied with foods containing healthy amounts of probiotics. One of the most common of these is yogurt, which provides a good vehicle for both keeping the good bacteria alive and making getting the bacteria simple. For various indigestion symptoms, food sources are the best choices to take advantage of the health benefits of probiotics.
However, that does not mean that there are no probiotic supplements available. There are a great number of pills and capsules designed to deliver calculated amounts of the beneficial bacteria. But, there are several big problems with probiotic supplements. For starters, there is no way to tell how long the good bacteria will stay alive, and thus their “shelf life” is hard to determine. Dead good bacteria are not really good bacteria at all. Secondly, the health benefits of probiotics are strain specific, meaning that one may be effective at deflecting diarrhea, while another only useful for IBS. Regardless, it is important to discuss the use of food sources or the best probiotic supplements with a health care provider. Not only will he or she be able to serve as a guide to what products and what bacterium is most beneficial, but they will also determine if symptoms displayed can benefit from the use of probiotics. Good bacteria may benefit a great number of health conditions, and we have laid out the top ten to consider:
1. Balancing the Bacteria in the Gut: In general, the function of the good bacteria in the gut is to keep the bad bacteria in balance to prevent disease, illness and digestive troubles. In this regard, it is effective and purposeful. By boasting a balanced blend of both good and bad bacteria, digestion can be less unpleasant and the side effects associated with common gastrointestinal woes can be averted.
2. Treating Diarrhea: Likely the most well known use of probiotics is the management of diarrhea. This is especially true for diarrhea that is caused by using antibiotics or, in children, rotavirus. In particular, lactobacillus GC has shown to be markedly effective at reducing the course of diarrhea, although this has been predominantly in children.
3. Crohn’s Disease and Colitis: Probiotics have shown in some tests to be useful in treating serious digestive conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Over the course of a year, some patients who participated in the test found that the health benefits of probiotics included a reduction in disease related symptoms.
4. Sustain Vaginal Microflora: One of the most important parts of adding in good bacteria is the balancing of bad bacteria. Although the female reproductive system is not related to digestive function, some research has show that probiotics can be potentially useful against vaginosis (bacterial infection of the vagina). Other studies showed a connection between infection prevention and probiotics as well.
5. Delay Allergy Development: One of the more perplexing potential health benefits of probiotics includes what seems to be a positive effect on the tendency for children to develop cow’s milk allergies. While research is still limited at best, it is possible that the bacteria balancing act that probiotics play may be keeping milk allergies at bay, as well as the eczema that goes with it.
6. Prevent Urinary Tract Infections: Early studies are pointing to another potential prevention purpose for probiotics. They may be useful in staving off the common urological condition of urinary tract infections.
7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: Because IBS is such a complicated condition, where symptoms vary in type and severity from person to person and come and go, it is very hard for research about treatment options to be gathered. However, it is possible that when probiotics are incorporated into a diet for acid reflux or IBS, symptoms like bloating, gas and heartburn may be reduced.
8. Aiding Digestion: Even people with no ailments can take advantage of the health benefits of probiotics. In short, they are thought to help ease digestion along and help promote proper gut motility. Thusly, the side effects of unpleasant and slow digestion can be averted.
9. Absorption of Nutrients: There are still many studies evaluating the potential of probiotics to aid in nutrient absorption, however it is possible that the good bacteria may make the intestines more susceptible to absorbing the vital nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy.
10. Provide a Boost to Immune System: It is thought that a healthy amount of good bacteria in the body can keep the immune system functioning properly, and studies are suggesting that this may be true. However, the immune system is one of the very few probiotics side effects that does come in to play. In persons with weakened immune systems, it is possible that the good bacteria may grow too well or too rapidly, which could lead to disease.