Probiotics have something to offer for nearly everyone. For some, starting a probiotic may be the missing link to finally finding relief from conditions that affect not only the digestive system but also other systems in the body.
Who Should Take a Probiotic?
Almost anyone can benefit from taking a probiotic. Many lifestyle factors negatively impact gut health, such as poor diet, stress, medications, and tobacco or alcohol use. Taking a probiotic adds a protective layer to your digestive system, helping it maintain balance and overall health.
It’s common for people to take a probiotic supplement for that extra protection. Probiotics balance the gut flora, which can bring additional health benefits such as:
- A stronger immune system
- Better nutrient absorption
- Heart health
- Skin health
- Less chronic inflammation
- Less stress and better mood
However, certain probiotic strains directly impact and improve a number of health conditions.
Who Should Not Take a Probiotic?
Just like with any supplement, there are some people who are better off avoiding a probiotic. However, this group is very small.
Probiotics are very safe for the vast majority of people with varying levels of health. If the probiotic strains contained in the supplement are strains that naturally occur in a healthy human intestine, you are simply re-populating your gut with beneficial bacteria.
In some instances, your doctor may recommend against taking a probiotic due to certain conditions. Being severely immunocompromised, in the ICU, or having a diagnosis of pancreatitis are examples.
Certain medicines may contraindicate the use of probiotics as well. For example, if you’re taking antibiotics, it’s important to take your probiotic at least one hour away from your medication. Overall, it can be beneficial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a probiotic.
What Happens When You Start Taking Probiotics?
Trillions of microorganisms live inside your digestive system. These microorganisms include bad and good bacteria, fungi, and viruses. All of these microorganisms make up what’s known as the gut microbiota. The balance of the microbiota plays a central role in our overall health.
Probiotics, or the “good” bacteria, help fight off pathogens in your gut and restore balance. They also play a role in creating vitamins, protecting the intestinal wall, and digesting food. You can boost the population of probiotics in your body with foods like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir. Or, you can take a probiotic supplement in powder or capsule form, which provides a more targeted approach for restoring gut health.
An effective supplement will contain a mixture of live probiotic strains. The most common strains you will see are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
When you start taking a probiotic, you may wonder when you will start noticing results. The bacteria get to work almost immediately if taken in adequate amounts, as they multiply and fight off harmful microbes.
One of the first signs that your probiotic is working will be better digestion. You will notice more regularity in your bowel movements and less gas and bloating. Over time, the lining that serves as a barrier in your gut will strengthen, preventing toxins and pathogens from entering the rest of your body.
This results in less work for your immune system and liver and then reduced illness for you, decreased inflammation, better skin, improved concentration, and many other health benefits that you will notice if you take a probiotic on a long-term basis.
Symptoms Probiotics May Help With
As probiotics work to fight pathogens and restore balance in your gut, you may notice the improvement of a variety of symptoms all over your body.
Probiotics May Help with Gas and Bloating
Gas and bloating can be perfectly normal if this happens occasionally, but sometimes they are a sign that your digestive system isn’t working as smoothly as it should. This can happen for several reasons, such as food sensitivities and stress.
If you experience gas and bloating often, there’s a good chance you have already tried a number of medications and remedies. However, it could be a sign that you’re simply dealing with an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. If ignored, this can lead to other issues over time like inflammation and even leaky gut.
Starting a probiotic will fight the overgrowth of pathogens and bring things back to balance. Taking a probiotic daily will maintain that balance and improve digestion. In other words, you’ll notice less bloating and better digestion.
Probiotics May Improve IBS Symptoms and Diarrhea
Research shows that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) commonly lack certain important strains of bacteria in the gut. Furthermore, many studies show that more dysregulation of the gut microbiota often increases symptoms of IBS.
Although more research is needed to fully understand IBS, taking a probiotic can be key for managing symptoms and increasing quality of life. IBS causes inflammation in the gut, which leads to discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation. A probiotic that contains live microorganisms tailored towards people with IBS can facilitate balance, alleviate inflammation, and allow the gut to heal.
Probiotics may help reduce the frequency of diarrhea, even if you don’t have IBS. There are a lot of reasons why someone may experience diarrhea. It’s a very common side effect of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and for people on antibiotics.
Taking an antibiotic for other illnesses kills both good and bad bacteria in your gut. This leads to imbalance, which may trigger diarrhea. Taking a probiotic can prevent imbalance in your gut even when you take an antibiotic, preventing diarrhea.
Probiotics May Help with The Immune System
Many people don’t realize that the majority of the body’s immune cells live within the gut. Up to 70% of these cells are located there. A poorly balanced gut microbiota can seriously compromise these cells, and therefore the body’s immune function.
The immune system and the digestive tract have a mutually beneficial relationship. When the gut is in a state of homeostasis, it takes some work off of the liver and the rest of the immune system. In turn, the immune system works more efficiently.
Probiotics serve as a line of defense for the immune system in many ways. First, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which regulate the pH in the intestines and make them less inhabitable for harmful pathogens. Probiotics also communicate with immune cells to eliminate pathogens. Both mechanisms prevent pathogens from entering the bloodstream and straining the immune system. They also prevent bacterial overgrowth in the gut.
The intestinal wall is another crucial line of defense for our immune system. When probiotics work to establish a balance of microbiota in the gut, the immune cells that make up this barrier can flourish. A stronger intestinal wall and improved mucus layer keep toxins and pathogens out of the bloodstream.
All of these beneficial actions at a cellular level bring major benefits to you and your immune system. Taking a probiotic will help you stay healthy and fight infection more quickly when you come down with something.
Probiotics May Improve Symptoms Beyond the Gut
Gut health extends far beyond the digestive system itself. The function of your gut and the cells within strongly impact many of the systems throughout your body. Therefore, taking a probiotic can improve symptoms that seemingly have nothing to do with the gut.
Migraines and Anxiety
Scientific evidence shows a strong link between the gut and the brain. The constant communication between the two is often referred to as the “gut-brain axis.” Because of this close relationship, taking a probiotic can help with conditions like migraine and anxiety.
When the intestinal wall is weakened due to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, toxins and pathogens travel to the rest of the body. The result is an inflammatory response, which is a major contributor to migraines.
When the brain lacks certain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, conditions like anxiety can arise. Probiotics are involved with neurotransmitter production, and research is growing to explain how probiotics can improve anxiety symptoms.
Maybe you haven’t thought about taking a probiotic for your skin until now, but perhaps you should. The skin is often referred to as a mirror of our gut. In other words, our skin can tell us a lot about the conditions in our gut.
Gut inflammation that leads to systemic inflammation can have a ripple effect on skin health. Probiotics also help absorb more important nutrients for the skin. A stronger intestinal lining keeps toxins from getting into the blood and reaching the skin.
A healthy gut also decreases inflammation. We often talk about this in terms of chronic disease, but inflammation damages the skin as well. It often shows up as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
When you take a probiotic, over time, you will notice positive changes in your skin. You may notice fewer breakouts and better management of symptoms from chronic skin disease.
Finally, taking a probiotic may help you lose or maintain your weight. Several studies have shown a link between gut microbiota and metabolism and that certain probiotic strains help with reducing body fat.
It takes several changes to treat overgrowth and get your metabolism back to optimal shape. Taking a probiotic is a helpful piece of the puzzle.
Conclusion: Does Everyone Need Probiotics?
Not everyone needs a probiotic, but nearly everyone can benefit from one. Gut health is the root of our health in many ways. Taking a probiotic strengthens that root, bringing benefits far beyond the gut.
If you are looking to improve your gut flora for better digestion or another reason, choose a high-quality probiotic that contains several species of live probiotic strains.
OMNi-BiOtiC offers several products to get you started on your journey with probiotics. Whether your goal is to restore and support diversity in the microbiome, improve digestion, or support immunity, you can easily choose a product tailored to your needs.