1. Probiotics prevent type 2 diabetes and help to maintain a healthy weight.Many studies show the danger of the buildup of unhealthy bacteria in our gut. There is a protein called toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5), and mouse models show that without this protein, the beneficial bacteria in the gut are overrun with the bad kind. Any mice lacking the TLR5 protein had inflammation and insulin-resistance which is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes. The study also transferred the TLR5 knockout mice gut flora to skinny mice with functioning TLR5. Due to the alterations in their intestinal bacteria, the skinny mice changed their eating habits. Many even became obese and showed resistance to insulin over time. An unhealthy microbiome seemingly caused weight gain and type 2 diabetes in some of the mice, suggesting that it does so in humans as well. Other studies show that a healthy gut flora lowers fat absorption, decreases fat storage, and raises levels of a hormone that reduces appetite which are all important for weight loss and maintenance.
2. Probiotics can eliminate side effects of antibiotic treatment.Antibiotics are effective in destroying bad bacteria, but a problem with oral antibiotics is that they also wipeout many of the beneficial bacteria in our gut. An instant microbiome change due to the use of antibiotics wreaks havoc on the digestive system, leading to diarrhea in about a third of patients. Taking probiotics can reduce this risk by almost 50%.
3. Probiotics boost the Immune system.Healthy bacteria add a layer between ingested food and the intestinal wall. Good bacteria break down fiber, make vitamin K, and have acidic byproducts that decrease inflammation. Some of the good bacteria even produce selective antibiotics and even make white blood cells that are harmful to bad bacteria but not to themselves. Without the good bacteria, not only are these substances not made, but also the bad bacteria cause inflammation of the gut.
Inflammation is a negative consequence of an unhealthy gut because it prevents important chemical and nutrient absorption. This leads to problems with organs that aren’t getting the substances they need to optimally function. The brain, the heart, the skin, and even the reproductive system are affected by microbial misbalance as described in the following five benefits.
4. Probiotics benefit mental health.Studies show that probiotics ease anxiety and depression and that our microbiome contains bacteria that produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. These are both important substances for mental health. Healthy bacteria also decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Studies also show that consequences of not having a healthy microbiome within three weeks of birth is associated with the development of autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and allergies in children.
5. Probiotics reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.Rat studies show that probiotics lower triglyceride levels which significantly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. Also, the acid byproducts of the gut flora reduce cholesterol levels, and some bacteria even directly degrade cholesterol. Reduced cholesterol levels lead to improved cardiovascular health.
6. Probiotics clear up skin.
Even the complexion may benefit from the use of probiotics. Studies show that acne, eczema, and rosacea improve with probiotics most likely due to the reduced inflammation of the gut. Gut flora reduce toxin, pathogen, and allergen absorption of substances that affect the skin.
7. Probiotics are good for women’s health.Symbiotic bacteria in our body play an important role in estrogen degradation and excretion. It is extremely important that estrogen levels fluctuate appropriately because lingering estrogen leads to symptoms including PMS symptoms such as bloating, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, and other symptoms such as weight gain and even breast cancer. Probiotics also help vaginal health and prevent yeast infections, urinary tract infections, bacterial infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. Osteoporosis prevention is important for women as they age, and gut flora are important for the production of vitamin K, an important compound for bone strength.
8. Probiotics are also good for men’s health.Not only does bacteria help women with estrogen, but there are also some in the gut that are natural testosterone synthesizers. Male mice on a probiotic diet are thinner, shinier, have bigger testicles, and inseminate females more successfully. Studies on men’s semen have found that those with more probiotics in their diet have higher sperm quality.
9. Probiotics improve oral hygiene.Probiotics have been shown to reduce plaque, gum-disease, and halitosis, or bad-breath. Once again, the anti-inflammatory effects of probiotics include the mouth, and the better immune system significantly improves oral health.
10. Probiotics keep you young.Around 60 years old, healthy bacteria count in the gut drops significantly. Disease-causing microbes set up camp and proliferate, and the microbiome shift increases gut inflammation and a slew of other problems as a result. In one study on people between 63 and 84, probiotic treatment substantially increased white blood count and effectiveness, suggesting that supplemental probiotics are increasingly important as we age.
Collectively, all these studies show that probiotics are critical for optimal functioning of the entire human body.
Kelly Daescu, MS