In recent years, probiotics have reentered the health and well-being lexicon as a digestive aid for people of various ages and levels of activity. This kind of supplement offers a variety of benefits, including improved gut health. Let’s take a closer look at probiotics and their other advantages:
“Probiotics are live bacteria that move food through your intestines.”
What are probiotics?
Your body is made up of both good and bad bacteria. While you want to eliminate the bad types, the good kinds of bacteria only add to your health. Probiotics are a form of good, live bacteria, which can treat and even prevent some forms of illness if taken regularly, according to Harvard Medical School. They essentially help to move food through your gut, aiding in overall digestion.
Probiotics were discovered in 1907 by Elie Metchnikoff. He discovered that consuming fermented milk with the bacteria Lactobacilli increased a person’s longevity, produced more lactic acid and aided in the maintenance of intestinal, or gut, microorganisms.
These kinds of supplements became well-known in the mid-1990s when they were discovered to ease gastrointestinal pains, treat urinary tract infections in women and delay child allergy development. Although probiotics are found naturally in the body, taking them in a supplemental form can help you balance good and bad bacteria in your body and replace the loss of good bacteria that results from taking certain medication or during an illness.
The lowdown on gut health
When we look at our bodies, it’s common for us to cite our bellies as the main area we’d like to target for weight loss. Yet, problems with gut health can cause people to have trouble achieving this goal.
Sometimes, an active lifestyle filled with exercise and a strong diet are not enough to improve gut health. Instead, bacteria in this area can cause you to struggle to shed pounds and lead to serious intestinal issues that cause pain and discomfort. Furthermore, these microbes can change the way we store fat, affect the balance of glucose levels and alter our response to hormones that result in us feeling hungry or full, according to Scientific American. This can lead to obesity and related diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes.
For years, scientists were less aware of how gut bacteria played its own role in weight gain and overall health. While diet is important and can help reduce the negative affect these microbes have, there is another way to improve gut health: probiotics.
“Probiotics, paired with other strategies, may help cut down obesity in the U.S.”
Probiotics to the rescue
It all goes back to the good vs. bad bacteria in the body, especially in the stomach in this case. Some people have inadequate levels of both kinds of microbes, which can result in gastrointestinal problems and more. By enriching foods with these nutrients and ensuring they reach the gut area, scientists believe they can help cut down the growing rate of obesity in the U.S.
One of the most common forms of probiotic supplement is yogurt in its various forms. Regular versions containing live culture bacteria can help with digestion and reduce bloating, while heavier kinds – like kefir – can help with weight loss and exercise recovery, according to Healthline.
Improving gut health
While weight loss may be the more external reason to improve one’s gut health, people experiencing problems with digestion can also benefit from taking certain steps. In addition to ingesting probiotic supplements and maintaining a rich and nutritious diet, there are other factors that can help you achieve better gut health.
To start, be mindful of your intake of antibiotics and medications such as oral contraceptives. Both can kill off numbers of good bacteria that you’ll need to replace with fermented foods and probiotics, according to Food Matters. Drinking alcohol, using too many antimicrobial solutions can also lead to poor gut health and low levels of good bacteria.
It’s important to do your research before purchasing and using a probiotic supplement. There are many options on the market today, but it’s crucial to find one from a well-known brand, that has undergone testing and drug approval and contains billions of live bacteria – as the supplement will then last longer.