The health benefits of probiotics include improving gut health, the immune system, and brain function. Studies have shown they can also help with constipation, blood pressure, skin health, and more.
Why are Probiotics Good for You?
You’ve probably heard of probiotics and that they are good for your health, specifically for digestive health, but what exactly are they?
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms found naturally throughout your body and especially in your digestive system. They are sometimes called live cultures or “good” bacteria because they help keep your intestinal bacteria balanced. One way is by protecting against other types of bacteria that cause disease or illness. When too many “bad” bacteria are in the gut, probiotics can help fight them off to rebalance the gut.
There are thousands of species of bacteria that act as probiotics.
One of the most common is Lactobacillus, which can help support the immune system, healthy blood sugar levels, digestion and may help prevent yeast infections.
Another species, Bifidobacterium, is often used to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), while also being beneficial for mental health and addressing eczema in infants.
Benefits of Probiotics for Gut Health
The digestive system is home to many different kinds of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and more.
Probiotics can help stimulate the growth of good bacteria while also protecting against disease-causing bacteria. Together, this mix of microorganisms is known as the gut microbiota or gut microbiome, and it plays a key role in the health of the human body.
1. Optimize Gut Function by Balancing the Bacteria in Your Digestive System
Keeping the gut microbiome balanced allows for normal gut function, while some changes to the gut bacteria can lead to problems. Probiotics can help maintain the healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and help repopulate with healthy bacteria after conditions that disturbed the microbiome.
For example, taking antibiotics kills off many of your good gut bacteria. This leaves room for bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi to overgrow. Taking a probiotic during and after antibiotics is a must for sustained health.
2. Reduce the Symptoms of Some Digestive Disorders
Digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be partially caused by changes to the normal bacteria found in the gut. Some research suggests that probiotics may reduce the severity of IBS symptoms including, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, and gas.
3. Reduce the Frequency of Diarrhea
While there are many causes for diarrhea, a change in the gut’s bacteria can lead to loose stools. Antibiotics often disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome, leading to antibiotic-associated diarrhea and causing loss of good bacteria.
Taking probiotics for diarrhea may reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated onset in adults aged 18-64. Omni-Biotic AB 10 contains ten carefully selected bacterial strains that restore the gut microbiome and reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
4. Maintain and Improve Gut Integrity
The digestive tract is protected by a thin (but strong) wall of cells called the gut barrier. This wall allows beneficial particles (like electrolytes and water) to pass from the intestines to the bloodstream while keeping partially digested food or disease-causing particles from slipping through.
When the gut barrier is damaged or inflamed, proteins and other bacteria may leak through the barrier. This is known as increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome.
More research is needed to understand why this happens. Evidence shows that the integrity of the gut barrier can be affected by genetics, stress, alcohol use and may be disrupted by poor diet and certain medications.
One study of 23 men showed that probiotic supplements helped improve the stability of the gut wall. Omni-Biotic Stress Release contains specific probiotic bacterial strains that support a strong gut barrier.
5. Reduce Gas and Bloating
Gas and bloating are common digestive problems. Possible reasons for gas and bloating include an imbalance in your gut microbiome, yeast overgrowth, and food intolerances. It can also be a sign of a more serious condition such as an IBS. Probiotic supplements can help rebalance the gut microbiome and even help crowd out bad bacteria.
Some evidence suggests that probiotics may help reduce these symptoms, especially in people with digestive disorders like IBS.
Benefits for the Mind and Brain
Gut health is about more than just digestion. Scientific evidence shows that the gut and the brain stand in constant communication with each other. You may have noticed this connection when your stomach drops or you have a gut feeling. This “gut-brain axis” influences many mental health conditions.
More research shows the important role that gastrointestinal health plays in improving mood and supporting focus and memory.
6. Improve Mood and Reduce Stress
The bacteria in the gut produce neurotransmitters that are your body’s messengers. Neurotransmitters help with sleep, mood, as well as controlling your bladder and heart function. Stress is known to disturb the gut bacteria, which may affect the quantity and function of neurotransmitters.
Probiotic supplements can help repopulate the gut bacteria during and after periods of stress and have been shown to improve mood, sleep, and cognitive function.
7. Help with Certain Mental Health Conditions
Microbiota composition changes are related to depression and anxiety. This may be because 95 percent of the neurotransmitter serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone, is produced by the bacteria in the gut.
One study found that after 30 days of supplementing with the probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacteria longum, healthy participants had less anxiety and depression.
Benefits for the Immune System
Up to 70% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut. Keeping the gut healthy is key to keeping the immune system functioning normally.
Specific probiotics have been shown to improve the immune response. For example, the probiotic strain Bifidobacteria infantis has been shown to increase T regulatory cells. These cells help prevent autoimmune diseases and can help limit chronic inflammation diseases.
8. Boost the Immune System and Speed Recovery from Illness
During illness, the bacteria in the gut are often unbalanced, especially when you suffer from a stomach virus, food poisoning, or have had to take antibiotics. Probiotics replenish your gut flora with good bacteria and can help to balance the immune system.
9. Protect Against Colds and Flu
10. Kill GI Infections
When you have an infection, like overgrowth of the yeast Candida, pathogenic or “bad” microorganisms can outnumber the good bacteria in the digestive tract. Probiotics may be able to help to fight off these disease-causing particles and restore the balance of the microbiome with good bacteria.
11. Protect Against Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotics may be needed to help the body fight infections, but they can disrupt the gut environment. Antibiotics often decrease the variety of good bacteria in the gut, which can reduce their ability to fight against other disease-causing microbes.
Sometimes, harmful bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics which is a real threat to treatment. Some strains of Lactobacillus bacteria have been shown to protect against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an infection resistant to several common antibiotics.
12. Reduce the Severity of Certain Allergies and Eczema
The gut houses the majority of the immune system, which is directly related to allergies. Keeping the digestive tract healthy has been of interest in helping relieve allergies and skin conditions like eczema.
In many studies that used the probiotic strains of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium among adults, positive effects have been shown, including reductions in symptoms and in the prevalence of eczema.
Other Benefits of Taking Probiotics
13. Improve Nutrient Absorption
Probiotics help keep beneficial microbes in the gut, which aid in the absorption of nutrients in food. In particular, some strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium may help improve the absorption of iron, an important micronutrient for blood production and transporting oxygen throughout the body.
14. Help with Weight Loss
The gut microbiota plays an important role in how the body extracts energy (or calories) from food, so the gut may be an essential factor for weight loss. Some research shows that probiotic supplementation can result in weight loss.
There are likely a handful of factors at play, including the specific strain of probiotics, how long supplementation is done, plus age, gender, and baseline weight. More research is needed to understand what role probiotics play in weight loss.
15. Gut-Liver Axis
In addition to the connection between the gut and the brain, the gut is also connected to the liver. Disturbances in the gut wall or in the variety of the bacteria within the gut may result in overburdening the liver and can contribute to diseases of the liver, like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) over time.
16. Help Keep Your Heart Healthy
One factor for optimal heart health is cholesterol level. Some research shows that supplementation of multiple strains of probiotics may help to reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often known as “bad” cholesterol.
17. Support Skin Health
Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema most common in babies and children that is marked by itchy, flaky skin. Some evidence shows that in young children and toddlers, probiotics containing Lactobacillus may help reduce symptoms and the risk of developing this condition as well as other allergies.
18. Benefits for Women
During pregnancy, probiotic supplementation is generally safe and beneficial. Probiotics are often used to help promote both maternal and infant health.
Probiotics may help to ease some digestive issues women face during pregnancy like constipation and may also reduce the risk of children developing atopic dermatitis later in life.
19. Benefits for Men
There are many different strains of probiotics and men may benefit from different probiotic strains than women. A combination of probiotics and prebiotics has been shown to help improve testosterone levels and sperm quality in men struggling with infertility.
Probiotics can also help men ease digestive symptoms like diarrhea and chronic digestive issues like IBS.
20. Benefits for Children
Certain bacterial strains have been shown to treat acute gastroenteritis (loose stools) and prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. In children, the use of probiotics has been shown to reduce the length of diarrhea symptoms by more than 24 hours.
Lactobacillus strains have also been shown to help prevent respiratory tract infections in daycare centers.
21. Benefits for Seniors
As people age, the diversity of the gut microbiota typically declines due to factors like gender, diet, physical activity, medication use, and immune system function.
Probiotic supplementation in older adults has been shown to increase beneficial gut bacteria and anti-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Strengthening the gut-brain axis via targeted probiotic supplementation can also help with memory and focus, which typically decreases with age.
Are Probiotics Safe?
Probiotics are generally safe to take. Many available probiotics use strains of bacteria that are already found in a healthy digestive system or have been shown to be safe in foods so they are unlikely to cause harm.
However, probiotics often contain many strains of probiotic bacteria, each of which can cause different effects in the body. This is why choosing a formulation that addresses your health needs is the best way to go.
You also want to make sure that the product your choosing is backed by substantial research, as well as scientific and clinical testing.
As with most supplements, it is best to consult your healthcare practitioner before you introduce something new to your wellness routine.
Is it Safe to Take Probiotics Daily?
For healthy individuals, probiotics have a long history of being safe and beneficial to use daily. That’s because most probiotic supplements typically use the same microbes that already exist naturally in the human gut.
The risk is greater for people with severe medical conditions or who are immunocompromised as supplementation. If you have a severe medical condition or are immunocompromised, please consult with your healthcare practitioner before you start using a probiotic supplement.
Possible Side Effects of Probiotics
Side effects are usually minor and involve mild digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, or diarrhea. This can happen especially in the first few days of taking a new supplement because your gut flora is rebalancing.
Probiotic Foods or Probiotic Supplements: Which is the Best Way to Get Probiotics
Probiotics can be consumed through fermented food, such as yogurt; kefir; aged cheeses, like Parmesan or aged cheddar; kimchi; sauerkraut; miso; tempeh, and non-dairy yogurts that indicate they are cultured.
While there is no recommended daily amount for probiotics, if these aren’t foods you typically eat, it may be a good idea to consider a dietary supplement. Omni-Biotic offers a range of probiotic supplements for different conditions, and you can take our Probiotic Fit Quiz to find the best product for you.
Probiotic supplements contain different strains of live organisms which are often used for different conditions, so it’s important to research what combination of strains may be best for your needs and maybe talk to your doctor or dietitian first.
Combining Prebiotics with Probiotics
Probiotics can work together with prebiotics—dietary fibers that act as food for probiotics—to create greater health benefits, known as a synbiotic effect. Synbiotics can improve the activity of the beneficial bacteria in the gut and their chance of survival.
In the Omni-Biotic probiotic powder, there are prebiotics included which fuel the good bacteria before you ingest them.
Choosing the Right Probiotic Supplement
Probiotics can help with a wide range of health conditions, starting from stress-related digestive issues and spanning all the way to anxiety. When choosing a probiotic supplement, first look for the right bacteria strains and formulation to address your health concern(s). In addition, also make sure the product you choose is backed by research and testing.
For example, Omni-Biotic Balance can help support the immune system, and Omni-Biotic Stress Release promotes the gut-brain. Both probiotics are targeted formulations based on over 25 years of gut microbiome research and 100+ clinical studies.
Keep in mind that some probiotic strains are studied more than others, and your doctor or dietitian can help you determine which may work best for you.