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Why Take Probiotics? The Multi-Benefits of Friendly Gut Bacteria

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A good deal of our posts center around probiotics. In fact, we have talked about probiotics at length and extensively documented their benefits. Why take probiotics at all? Because it’s not just your gut that will feel better. The why of probiotics is very important and will help you determine whether supplementation is right for you.

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Should I Take Probiotics?

We can’t answer this question for you. Only you can make that determination based on any current ailments you may be facing. We will say this, though. Many everyday people who go on a probiotic-rich diet or use a probiotic supplement swear by the results.

What’s the point of taking probiotics at all? It has to do with your gut microbiome, which makes up the microorganisms in the body, both good and bad. It has been said that this gut microbiome is in itself a miniature universe. In fact, according to some estimates, the human body has roughly 75 to 100 trillion living cells. That far outnumbers the estimated 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy!

LEARN MORE: Probiotics: What Are They?

The key to gut health is having more of the good bacteria than bad hanging around. However, poor lifestyle factors can tilt the number in the bad bacteria’s favor. By taking probiotics, you’re introducing more of the good guys to ward off the pathogenic invaders.

Of course, you can’t exactly count the number of living probiotics circulating in your gut. You can only make an educated guess that the balance is off by the way you feel. If you often feel less than stellar physically or mentally, then something is probably not right with your gut microbiome. The following conditions indicate that you may need more probiotics.

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1. Constipation

Probiotics are almost universally known for treating indigestion. Probiotics play a role in food breakdown and nutrient absorption. If you’re struggling in the loo and having rough stools, then your body is probably severely lacking in good bacteria. We wrote an entire post on probiotics and constipation. In short, probiotics alleviate constipation, which is a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome and may be accompanied by frequent stomach cramps and upsets.

If bowel movements are infrequent, and the few ones you have feel like a serious struggle, then we highly recommend taking probiotics.

2. Obesity

Why take probiotics if you’re obese? For starters, there is a strong link between probiotics and weight loss. Gaining weight may also be a sign that your body is not adequately absorbing nutrients. Studies1 have revealed correlations between obesity and malnutrition. It’s not exactly certain whether malnutrition leads to obesity or if the reverse is true. However, a growing body of scientific literature2 suggests that gut microbes play a pivotal role in nutrient breakdown and absorption.

It should be noted that obesity also drastically increases risk of type II diabetes, another disease that probiotics may also be able to offset. This is the finding, according to a study published under the European Medical Journal.

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3. Common Cold and Flu

Are you frequently coming down with the flu or common cold? This is a sign of a compromised immune system and insufficient white blood cell count. Studies3 suggest probiotics — and especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains — can boost immune response by stimulating the release of beneficial macrophages and antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes.

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In fact, a large part of the immune system is located right in the gut, according to an article published by John Hopkins Medicine. It has been discovered, for example, that parts of the gastrointestinal lining produce the majority of antibodies that binds against foreign bacteria and viruses, rendering them harmless.

4. Mood Swings

Do you frequently feel moody with more lows than highs? You may or may not have heard of the term gut-brain axis. The term was coined to describe the growing number of research that suggests the gut exerts some degree of influence on the brain and vice versa. Studies4 hint that probiotics may increase serotonin, or the feel-good hormone. The research was a meta-analysis that looked at past studies that assessed the effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms, including mood swings, cognition and anxiety. Positive results were observed on all measures.

We’re not suggesting probiotics will instantly make you a happy-go-lucky camper, but the gut-brain connection is pretty undeniable.

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5. Chronic Fatigue

A slight feeling of lethargy in the middle of the afternoon is normal. However, it’s not normal if you’re yawning every half hour and tempted to just put your head down. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a medically-diagnosed illness and one for which you can actually apply for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration.

READ MORE: Feeling Tired? Learn How to Measure Testosterone Levels

Why should I take probiotics for lack of energy? Because studies5 actually show a link between probiotics and chronic fatigue syndrome. How are they connected? Studies6 show that CFS may be linked to immune disorders and oxidative stress. We’ve already established the connection between probiotics and immune health. Separate trials7 also revealed that probiotics reduce biomarkers for oxidative stress.

Why Take Probiotics for General Health?

As you can see, the impact of probiotics goes well beyond gut health. Probiotics promote healthy gastrointestinal function, which in turn has an indirect effect on all other areas. If you experience any of the above symptoms or just feel less than your best, then we believe you can benefit immensely from a product like Floracil50.

Citations and Sources

1.
Via M. The Malnutrition of Obesity: Micronutrient Deficiencies That Promote Diabetes. ISRN Endocrinol. 2012;2012:103472. [PMC]
2.
Krajmalnik-Brown R, Ilhan Z, Kang D, DiBaise J. Effects of Gut Microbes on Nutrient Absorption and Energy Regulation. Nutr Clin Pract. 2012;27(2):201-214. [PMC]
3.
Ashraf R, Shah N. Immune system stimulation by probiotic microorganisms. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(7):938-956. [PubMed]
4.
Wallace C, Milev R. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2017;16:14. [PMC]
5.
Rao A, Bested A, Beaulne T, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Gut Pathog. 2009;1:6. [PMC]
6.
Maes M, Mihaylova I, Leunis J. Increased serum IgA and IgM against LPS of enterobacteria in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): indication for the involvement of gram-negative enterobacteria in the etiology of CFS and for the presence of an increased gut-intestinal permeability. J Affect Disord. 2007;99(1-3):237-240. [PubMed]
7.
Mohammadi A, Jazayeri S, Khosravi-Darani K, et al. Effects of Probiotics on Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Factors in Petrochemical Workers: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Int J Prev Med. 2015;6:82. [PMC]
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Ryan Tronier

Ryan Tronier is a writer and editor who has worked with NBC, ABC, and USA Today.
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