Probiotics are by far one of the most popular health supplements available today – but if you aren’t part of the hype, you may be left scratching your head. Why would anyone want to knowingly put live bacteria in their bodies?! And how exactly is any type of bacteria good for you?
Once you wade your way through the sea of questions, it’s clear that probiotics are truly a one-of-a-kind “wonder supplement” – providing a plethora of benefits to almost every major area in your body. This article will go into depth about what probiotics are, how you should take them, and the different kinds of strains and benefits they offer. These include probiotics for men, probiotics for women, probiotics for kids and even probiotics for weight loss.
What Are Probiotics?
The idea that our bodies are full of bacteria (good and bad) may be strange to you, but it’s true. The key to optimal wellness is to maintain a healthy balance between the two, and ensure you have enough good bacteria to beat out the bad.
Probiotics are the live, “good bacteria” that are essential for peak gut health and therefore total body health and wellness. They work to heal and maintain your gut health by fighting off bad bacteria that can cause infection, sickness and disease.
Unfortunately, we come into contact with bad bacteria every day, from external sources such as processed or sugary foods and drinks and environmental toxins. Even stress can up the quantity of bad bacteria in our bodies. The goal of probiotics is to even out the playing field and give your body the good bacteria it needs to restore balance and health.
Benefits of Probiotics
Your gut has been called “the second brain”, and for good reason. The truth is, your gut is intricately connected to just about every other area in your body. So if it isn’t healthy, you’re going to suffer in more ways than one. On the other hand, if you nourish your gut with probiotics combined with healthy lifestyle practices, it will pay you back many times over.
Here are some of the ways probiotics may benefit you daily:
1) Enhance Digestive Health
If you frequently suffer from digestive woes such as gas, bloating, indigestion, stomach aches or constipation, your gut is in need of some rescue. A regular flood of gut-healthy bacteria is potentially the only antidote you need to provide healing. First, probiotics help patch up the lining of your gut, easing symptoms of digestive distress. In addition, certain probiotic strains aid in proper digestive processes, supporting gastrointestinal health. These strains also help protect against digestive inflammatory diseases.
Probiotic strains for digestive health: Lactobacillus Acidophilus,Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Bifidobacterium Lactis and Bifidobacterium Longum.
2) Strengthen Your Immune System
A whopping 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, so if your gut health is weak, your immunity to sickness will be weak as well. If you’re constantly suffering from one cold after another, it’s time to strengthen your gut health. Certain probiotic strains are particularly beneficial for boosting your body’s defenses against infections, disease and even allergies.
Probiotic strains for immune health:Lactobacillus Acidophilus,Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Gasseri, Bifidobacterium Bifidum, and Bifidobacterium Longum.
3) Boost Your Mood
As mentioned, your gut and your brain are closely connected. They actually communicate with each other, and send messages back and forth. So, it’s no surprise that if your gut health is out of whack, you’re likely to feel a bit sad or depressed. Your healthy mood is very much dependent on the health of your entire body, namely your gut. Plus, 90% of your serotonin (the feel-good hormone) is made in your digestive tract. Certain probiotic strains can help reduce cortisol levels (or the stress hormone) and raise serotonin levels so you feel less anxious or sad, and much happier.
Probiotic strains for brain health: Bifidobacterium Longum, Bifidobacterium Breve, Bifidobacterium Infantis, Lactobacillus Helveticus and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus.
4) Support Urinary Tract Health
Certain probiotics for women are specifically designed to support optimal urinary tract health. The strains in these particular probiotic formulas replenish the good bacteria in your urinary tract to help prevent yeast and urinary tract infections. Probiotics for men are designed for the same, and also to protect against a prostate condition called prostatitis. These probiotics help reduce inflammation in the prostrate and urinary tract. In addition, bolstering the immune system helps prevent disease in these areas.
Probiotic strains for urinary tract health:Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GR-1, Lactobacillus Reuteri RC-14, Lactobacillus Casei Shirota, and Lactobacillus Crispatus CTV-05.
5) Clear Up Skin Issues
Probiotics have also been shown to benefit the largest organ in your body – your skin. Because probiotics help calm inflammation in the body, they can also help ease skin problems and clear up skin issues. By eating probiotic-rich foods or taking a probiotic supplement, you can potentially calm skin conditions like acne and fight the signs of premature aging. Plus, probiotics for kids are even used to help treat eczema in children.
Probiotic strains for skin health: Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Lactobacillus Plantarum and Bifidobacterium Breve.
Probiotics for Weight Loss
I know what you’re thinking… probiotics can even potentially help me manage my weight?! The research says yes, and we’ll outline the ways for you.
The fact that probiotics help reduce inflammation in your body is a big part of the equation. Evidence suggests that obesity is linked to inflammation in your brain, therefore by improving your gut health, you help reduce inflammation and protect against obesity and disease.
Some of the ways certain probiotic strains may help you with your weight loss goals include…
- Inhibit the absorption of dietary fat
- Release the satiety hormone, GLP-1, which helps reduce appetite
- Increase levels of the protein, ANGPTL4, leading to decreased fat storage
- Helps you lose body fat (Lactobacillus fermentum,Lactobacillus amylovorus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus)
- Helps you reduce belly fat (Lactobacillus gasseri)
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
Best Probiotic Supplements
When it comes to where you get probiotics, the best food options are not typically part of normal diets within the US. All of the best food sources are fermented (think sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha). They’re probably a lot of foods you’ve never even heard of – but you can learn much more about them in this article on Probiotic Foods and Probiotics.
So, the best way to get probiotics if you don’t regularly eat fermented foods is a high-quality probiotic supplement. We recommend you choose one that has a protective coating to guard it from the harsh acids in your stomach. This is because for optimal effectiveness, the live probiotic strains need to be released into your intestine. In addition, delayed-release probiotic capsules also serve this purpose.
You can also find high-quality meal replacement shakes that include a hefty dose of probiotics (usually Lactobacillus Acidophilus),which we highly recommend. We recommend you pair a shake like this with a high-quality probiotic formula containing a variety of strains for the utmost health benefits – targeting multiple areas of your body based on your specific needs.
At Meal Replacement Shakes, we review meal replacement shakes across a variety of categories – including calories, ingredients, price, and more. See our top rated shakes of 2019 here. Or, skip ahead to our full review of our #1 rated shake, 310 Shake!