- Probiotics are gaining popularity worldwide, but are they really any good, and what do they help with?
- We examine the evidence to bring to you the major probiotic supplements pros and cons
Probiotics are live organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live on your body and in your gut. Probiotics are vital for your health, manufacturing enzymes, minerals, and vitamins, fending off invaders, and eradicating dietary toxins. You can get them from some yogurt, fibrous fruit and vegetables, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and kimchi. You can also take them as supplements. So, what are the pros and cons of probiotic supplements?
What are the advantages of taking probiotics?
Probiotics offer many health benefits, from supporting your immune and digestive systems to aiding in weight loss. Always speak to your healthcare professional before beginning any new regime.
Probiotics may strengthen your immune system by synthesizing B vitamins, producing important metabolites, and promoting balance within your microbiome. A healthy balance of probiotics within your digestive tract is essential for optimal health since your gut forms a crucial part of your body’s defense system.
Probiotics may help you maintain digestive health by colonizing your gut with good bacteria that help fight off the bad bacteria. A balanced gut will produce enzymes that break down the food you eat into more digestible molecules, making the entire process more efficient. Because of this, it’s possible to use probiotics for colon cleanse.
While more research is needed to determine which probiotic strains work best, scientists believe that probiotics can help ease constipation, leading to quicker transit and emptying times. Studies have shown that lactis strains may alleviate constipation, while rhamnosus is linked to the normalization of gut inflammation.
Another one of probiotics’ pros is that they can help alleviate the gas and bloating brought on by irritable bowel syndrome. No one knows exactly how they do this, but experts recommend multi-strain probiotics, with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium being some of the most well-known and well-studied.
Probiotics may help you lose weight by reducing inflammation, decreasing the number of calories your body absorbs, and boosting the production of the satiety hormone that tells you when you have had enough to eat. Studies have shown that probiotics can lead to decreased waist circumference as well as weight, and while more studies are needed to explain how this works, the science looks promising.
Probiotics don’t just live in your gut: they also live in your mouth. Here too they can become unbalanced, making halitosis (bad breath) and dental caries more likely. Thankfully supplements may significantly improve periodontal diseases and promote homeostasis.
On top of everything else, probiotics may be useful for mental health problems too. While research continues, experts believe that probiotic use may alleviate the symptoms of depression, reducing anxiety, and having a positive effect on mood and cognition.
What are the disadvantages of taking probiotics?
Probiotics exist naturally in our body and are generally considered safe, but they may have some side effects, and on rare occasions, certain people should avoid them. If they trigger any kind of allergic reaction (itching, swelling, or inflammation), stop taking them, and seek medical advice.
Initial temporary side effects
While most people do not experience side effects, some people report some increase in gas, bloating, and constipation. They usually will subside after a few days. Starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it, can reduce the chances of experiencing these side effects.
If you are immunocompromised
Although unlikely, probiotics may make you susceptible to infections or antibiotic-resistance if you suffer from a compromised immunity. It is always recommended to talk to your health care provider
Some commercial products are misleading
Because quality control is limited, it can be hard to validate the quality of some probiotic products on the market. For this reason, always use a respected brand, make sure they are manufactured in a GMP certified facility, and speak to your healthcare professional if you are unsure.
Is it safe to take probiotics every day?
Certain strains have been proven safe for daily use, and in fact, daily usage may be the most effective way to use supplements, as gut bacteria can return to its previous levels once you stop taking them.
Are probiotic supplements better than yogurt?
If you follow a plant-based diet, there’s no way you’ll want to eat regular doses of yogurt. But even if you aren’t strict about what you eat, there are plenty of reasons why probiotics are better for your digestive health than yogurt.
Yogurt contains hidden sugars
Many yogurts on the market are deceptively high in sugar, which has a negative effect on your gut health.
Yogurt contains histamines
Yogurt is high in histamines, which is no problem for some people. However, if you are histamine-sensitive, you may experience itching and inflammation after eating yogurt. If you have a gut imbalance, you are more likely to suffer from histamine-sensitivity, so it makes sense to avoid too much yogurt.
Yogurt is not standardized
While probiotics contain certain numbers of each bacteria on the label, yogurt is not standardized in this way. This means it can be hard to know just how many probiotics you are consuming.
Probiotics may survive digestion better
Your stomach acid is extremely potent and is able to kill off many of the bacteria that enter your digestive system. Probiotic capsules, on the other hand, are often coated with a substance that allows the whole thing to make it all the way to the lower digestive tract.
Probiotics are pretty safe, but they should never be used as an alternative to seeking proper medical advice. A natural way to promote health by increasing the levels of probiotics in your body is to consume probiotic-rich foods such as fermented soy and sauerkraut. Look after your digestive health and boost your immune system with probiotics, but remember, they are living organisms, and they also need feeding. Fibrous foods rich in prebiotics such as peas, cabbage, chickpeas, and cashews are some of the best ways to feed your good bacteria.