If you’re taking probiotics to improve your digestion problems, current research suggests you’re not just helping your gut—you’re doing your entire body a favor! And if you’re not taking probiotics, you might want to consider starting. Read on to find out why!
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast in a person's digestive tract. These microorganisms are “friendly” (beneficial to the host). Among many benefits, they help degrade toxic and allergenic substances in the intestine and colon. Probiotics occur naturally in certain foods like yogurt and cottage cheese. They are also available as nutritional supplements which can be purchased in health food stores.
How do probiotics help my whole body?
These tiny organisms can do some pretty amazing things! To name just a few:
They help you absorb nutrients. The friendly bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus helps with the absorption of the B vitamins and vitamin K, along with fatty acids and minerals such as calcium.
They improve immune function. Beneficial bacteria have a critical and powerful effect on your gut’s immune system and your systemic immune system. They also aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens.
A study* published in the journal Pediatrics in 2009 looked at the potential benefits of probiotics in children during cold and flu season. According to the authors, “Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.”
They have a systemic, anti-inflammatory effect. While mechanism behind this benefit is not fully understood, recent studies strongly suggest that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus works against inflammation. One such study** looked at biological markers for inflammation in patients taking the probiotics and those take a placebo. The researchers concluded “…probiotic bacteria have strain-specific anti-inflammatory effects in healthy adults.”
Another study*** from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, looked at the effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in infants with eczema, an inflammatory skin condition. The researchers concluded that infants receiving this probiotic had a significantly reduced risk of eczema symptoms.
So if you thought probiotic supplements were just for digestion problems, think again! Now you have many more reasons to consider taking probiotic supplements.