For the past one year, every time that Russell got back from his business trip, he would complain of headaches, nausea and fatigue.  These would last for a week or so and then diminish; till the return from the next trip.  Russell put it down to work and travel stress and his advancing age.  However, after his last trip, the problem became rather acute with Irritable Bowel Syndrome adding itself to the list.  Russell’s wife Jane insisted that they visit the doctor.  After checking Russell, the doctor informed him that his problem was due to an imbalance in the bacteria in his gut, caused by the change in food that Russell consumed on his trips.  He suggested adding yogurt with live cultures and fermented pickled cabbage or turnips into his diet, while on his trips away from home. 

Russell has just returned from his trip to Brazil and both he and Jane are amazed that his problems have not surfaced this time.  He never imagined that the bacteria in his gut could make such a change to his health and well being.  Like Russell, most of us do not realize the importance of probiotics – yes, which is what the fermented pickled vegetables and yogurt delivered, in our daily diet.  Read on to understand the impact of probiotics on your health.

Bacteria in my gut?

Our gastrointestinal tract has microorganisms that form an intricate, living fabric of natural controls that effect nutrition, energy and body weight.

According to an article in Science Daily:

“The microbes in the human gut belong to three broad domains, defined by their molecular phylogeny: Eukarya, Bacteria, and Achaea.  Of these, bacteria reign supreme, with two dominant divisions – Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes – making up over 90 percent of the gut’s microbial population… Within the bacterial categories… enormous diversity exists.

Ongoing research on probiotics, may offer new methods for treating nutrition related diseases and the health consequences linked to them.

Connected to your brain, with at least 70% of your immune system based here, the gut is where digestion begins.  Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live within your gut along with other types of bacteria – some good and some bad.  The trick is to achieve a positive balance of bacteria, which in turn will have positive effects on your health.

How exactly does probiotics affect your health – the following will help you understand.

Get rid of that bloated feeling

You have returned home after a delicious meal at your favorite restaurant, only to find yourself doubling up in pain from bloating and gas.  One of the major contributors to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is altered gut bacteria, or ‘microbiota’.  This is where probiotics come in –correcting the balance of your gut bacteria, thus helping the process of proper digestion.1  According to a study of 1,793 IBS sufferers, it was found that those who took probiotics regularly, showed less symptoms of IBS as compared to those who didn’t.2

Manage you moody blues

Do you find yourself reaching out for that tub of ice cream when you are feeling low?  The connection between your mood and food is very real – lack of the right balance of vitamins, protein and minerals can make you moody.  According to a study, people who took probiotics regularly, managed to stay more positive and responded better to mood swings.3  Those who ate yogurt with live cultures experienced less stress and anxiety as compared to those who did not.4

Charge up your grey cells

The vagus nerve links your gastrointestinal tract directly to your brain – so if your gut is not working 100%, neither is your brain.  Proper digestion provides you with minerals and fatty acids that are essential to keep your brain working efficiently.  Research has shown that probiotics help with your concentration, focus and mental health by keeping your digestive system running efficiently and effectively.

Manage your blood sugar

Studies have shown that Lactobacillus, a probiotic bacterium, converts sugar and starch into energy. This helps in reducing their impact on your liver and in the glucose levels in your blood, thus reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome. 5

Get yourself healthy skin

It is a known fact that probiotics process many toxins in your digestive tract and help your body to expel them.  This allows your body to cleanse itself through the lower digestive tract rather than through your skin in the form of acne and pimples.

Keep allergies at bay

A large number of allergies that we suffer from are linked to altered gut bacteria and digestive disorders.  According to research, kids taking probiotics experience conditions like atopic dermatitis, much less than those who don’t.6  Four months after stopping the probiotic regimen, Lactobacillus was still found to be very effective against atopic dermatitis in children between 1-18 years.7

Have a healthy heart

Probiotic bacteria produce vitamins like biotin, vitamin B12 and vitamin K2.  Low levels of K2 can cause calcification in the arteries, leading to heart disease.  K2 is produced by bacteria in your colon, so it is important to ensure that you are taking your regular dose of probiotics.


 References:
  1. Edward Group DC, N. D. (2015, October 05). 7 Ways Probiotics Affect Your Health. Retrieved October 07, 2015, from Natural Health: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/7-ways-probiotics-affect-your-health/
  2. Health benefits of taking probiotics. (2005, September). Retrieved October 07, 2015, from The Family Health Guide: http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
  3. Killian, J. (2012, April). The Overlooked Role of Probiotics in Human Health. Retrieved October 07, 2015, from LIFE EXTENSION MAGAZINE: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2012/4/Overlooked-Role-Probiotics-Human-Health/Page-01
  4. Nordqvist, J. (2015, September 23). What are probiotics? What are the health benefits of probiotics? Retrieved October 07, 2015, from Knowledge Center: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264721.php
  5. Probiotics Pros and Cons. (2014, March 03). Retrieved October 07, 2015, from BERKELEY WELLNESS : http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/other-supplements/article/probiotics-pros-and-cons
  6. Probiotics: One of The Most Important Supplements You Can Take. (2011, September 24). Retrieved October 07, 2015, from Health Articles: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/24/one-of-the-most-important-steps-you-can-take-to-improve-your-health.aspx