Beneficial probiotics are friendly bacteria that can produce a range of benefits in the human body. They maintain a balanced gut microbiota along with having several advantages to your overall health. For those of you considering whether to add probiotics to your diet, we will discuss some of the common questions asked when deciding on the effectiveness of probiotics supplementation.
What are probiotics?
All of us have bacteria living inside of us, good bacteria and bad bacteria. Probiotics encourage beneficial bacteria that help by creating a healthy gut microbiome. You can find bacteria in fermented foods like yogurt and also within probiotic supplements.
Research suggests that certain probiotic strains will:
What happens to your body when you start taking probiotics?
Your gut flora is important as it produces microorganisms, which are really essential for your digestive health. When you start to take probiotics it can take around 5 days before you will start to see any health benefits.
Probiotics work by adjusting the balance between beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria and protecting our intestinal lining.
It is important to note the positive effects of the good bacteria will only last as long as you are taking your supplements.
Increasing the good gut bacteria in adequate amounts for just a month can increase the function of your central nervous system, enhancing your mood.
What is the downside of probiotics?
When you start taking probiotics they can sometimes cause mild diarrhea at first whilst your body gets used to it. This happens as the live microorganisms in the probiotics will enter your body and attempt to address any imbalance. This usually will go away on its own after a few days.
Other symptoms can include:
Should I take probiotic supplements?
You should always speak with your health professional before deciding to take any dietary supplements and should try to get the most out of your diet first. Probiotic rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented milk, and some cheeses are an excellent source of live and active cultures. Processed foods can sometimes remove probiotics so it is worth checking the labels. Evidence suggests that these foods will increase the number of good gut microbes in your body.
If you are taking a probiotic supplement you should refer to the label to see how many live bacteria are within each capsule, this is called the colony forming unit or CFU. You should also check to see which type of species of bacteria are in the capsules, common probiotic bacteria include the Lactobacillus species and Bifidobacterium species. There are some more good probiotic supplements online with a diverse range of species.
What should I consider about probiotics?
When taking supplements there are a few things to consider:
For most people the benefits of probiotics outweigh any of the risks associated, they can improve mood, support immune function, reduce digestive disorders and assist with antibiotic associated diarrhea to name but a few. Certain health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome can really benefit from a probiotic, it will reduce IBS symptoms, for further information on probiotics and IBS you can read the following article, Probiotics 101: A Simple Beginner's Guide (healthline.com).
It is useful to note that each different probiotic will produce a differing effect and you may want to do your own research into which type you should take. It will very much depend on the issue you are trying to address.
Whilst certain probiotics may give you a health benefit, you should always stop taking them if you have any adverse effects.