Probiotics are beneficial flora that can aid in gut health and boost immune function. They can be found in supplement form and also in a range of fermented products from dairy such as yogurt and kefir, pickles (lacto fermented), olives, miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
The main reason probiotics have been widely recommended by health experts in recent years is their ability to support your gut microbiome. New health research and medical advances has shown that the microbiome is at the core of many health functions, including safe-guarding your immune system, creating nutrients, and the production and circulation of hormones.
Your gut health is 100% dependent on the health of the trillions of microscopic bacteria (making up the human microbiome), and they live in almost every corner of your body, inside and out – and especially the ones that populate your entire digestive system.
The most important part of your human microbiome is located in your intestines and colon.
Scientists have discovered that more than 1,000 species of bacteria can live in there. They affect everything from your metabolism and how well you process calories, to your immune system and even how well your brain functions (which deeply impacts mood and anxiety).
When in balance, these helpful gut bug colonies can safe-guard your health in many ways. However most people are lacking both diversity in their gut bug colonies and are overwhelmed by unfriendly or even harmful bacteria. Harmful bacterial can take hold in the gut for many reasons, from overuse of antibiotics, to gut infections, poor diet, toxins, and undiagnosed food sensitivities.
Yet when these helpful colonies of gut flora are damaged (or the tissues in your gut lining become compromised), it can create serious havoc not only with your digestion but also with your overall health.
Both studies and clinical trials have show that that adding probiotics along with a healthy diet or as part of a gut-healing protocol can be extremely beneficial.
The effects of probiotics are well-documented in relation to improving digestive health in a number of ways. Probiotics can balance the effects of antibiotics, which are taken in order to rid the body of bacteria.
Probiotics such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria have been found to reduce the incidence and duration of diarrhea in children. They can also reduce the risk of travelers' diarrhea in adults.
Probiotics have also been shown to benefit children and adults with irritable bowel syndrome and adults with ulcerative colitis; studies on the benefits of probiotics on Crohn's Disease are not conclusive as yet. Probiotics can also help with dermatitis and other allergic reactions.
Many people who are lactose intolerant might think they have to miss out on probiotics because they are so commonly found in dairy products. The good news is that fermented foods such as miso, fermented pickles, olives, and sauerkraut can all add healthy probiotics to your diet.