The word bacteria gets a really bad rap as harmful and something that creates illness, but what if I told you that without bacteria, we could not have digestion and immune function. Let's talk about the little...
The word bacteria gets a really bad rap as harmful and something that creates illness, but what if I told you that without bacteria, we could not have digestion and immune function. Let's talk about the little friendly bacteria living in your body and gut that make a huge difference in your health! Learning about the health benefits of probiotics, live bacterial strains can really help you take charge of your health, especially because they can help you in so many different ways! In today's blog post, I'll be teaching you about what probiotics actually are, some of the health benefits of probiotics, and how you can actually start getting these benefits in your daily life with some specific food tips. Let's get started!
Did you know that there are actually more bacteria in your body than there are cells? Woah! Not all bacteria are bad, though. Probiotics are live bacteria that have health benefits for our bodies! You might have heard about probiotics in yogurt and other fermented foods, supplements, or even some beauty products. Most people think of bacteria as being harmful (and associate it with germs), but lots of the bacteria in our bodies really help us on so many levels. Bacteria helps to destroy disease, produce vitamins, and digest food! Probiotics actually are very similar in make-up to the microorganisms that are already living in our bodies naturally. 
There are hundreds of probiotics strains, or 'good bacteria', and together these families create our microbiome. Probiotic foods and supplements can repopulate a healthy balance in your gut of different types of bacteria that may have been lost from stress, poor diet, or antibiotic use. The health benefits of probiotics are huge, from weight loss to digestive health and immune system boosts. Probiotics can even help your skin—they've been shown to help with acne, eczema, and rosacea. Here are four of the key health benefits of probiotics!
Probiotics are full of "good bacteria" that can have huge health benefits for your digestive system. By restoring the natural balance of your gut's bacteria, probiotics promote good gut health overall. When the bacteria in your gut are imbalanced (and there are more bad bacteria than good), you can have digestive problems, allergies, mental health issues, and other health problems. Luckily, probiotics are safe and effective at restoring your gut bacteria balance! 
Your immune system helps fight off illness and disease. Probiotics boost your immune system by inhibiting the growth of harmful gut bacteria. Beyond helping out with balance in your gut, probiotics can also promote antibodies' natural production in your body. They can boost immune cells that fight illness, and even reduce the risk or severity of certain infections, like respiratory infections or Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in women. 
Certain types of probiotics can actually help you lose weight and get rid of stubborn belly fat by increasing weight loss and weight maintenance. Probiotics can also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are associated with being overweight or obese. If you're struggling with the effects of your weight on your overall health, probiotics could potentially help you with reducing those symptoms. Although there hasn't been a ton of studies done on probiotics and weight loss as a direct relationship, since they contribute to your gut health and improve your overall health, they're a safe bet, as the body will always function better with a more healthy gut! One study did find that eating yogurt with a certain probiotic in it actually reduced body fat by 3-4% over a 6-week period. This means that probiotics have the potential to really help your overall health by improving your weight, but there are way more benefits than just weight loss. 
Probiotics can benefit a number of health conditions. Probiotics have helped to prevent or treat these conditions:
Probiotics can also help reduce inflammation, which is a cause of many different diseases and health issues. Aside from your physical wellness, probiotics can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Especially for those with clinical depression, probiotics could be another way to treat those complex emotional and mental health symptoms. It's important to consult with your doctor or nutritionist about your specific medical needs and how probiotics can potentially help, and if you find your doctor has not studied this area of medicine yet, look for a functional doctor or ND in your area.
One of the best ways to benefit from probiotics is by eating probiotic-rich foods. Live probiotic cultures are found in fermented dairy products, like yogurt and certain milk drinks. Other fermented foods like pickled veggies, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, and organic soy products can also contain probiotics. Another way to get probiotics into your body is through supplements, which come in tablets, capsules, and powders made of dried probiotics! It's important to know whether the probiotics you're taking are right for your gut. Stomach acids destroy some probiotics before they ever reach your gut, meaning you won't get the same benefits. And the quality of probiotics is very important as some probiotics have been found dead before consumption, rendering them useless. So I recommend using a trusted brand from a health store, not the drug store. Everyone's body is different, so different probiotics and amounts will work differently for you, so try one with new strains on the label every couple of months if you don't feel huge benefits when you finish the bottle! Maintaining good health means doing work in lots of areas of your life, from the foods you eat to the exercise you do on a regular basis. Especially when it comes to good gut health, you should really look at your lifestyle and evaluate what changes need to be made—it's not as easy as just taking a probiotic supplement and calling it a day. However, the health benefits of probiotics make them worthwhile. If you're ready to improve your gut and overall health and wellness, talk with your doctor about adding probiotic-rich foods and possibly probiotic supplements to your wellness routine. It's important to speak with your doctor because everyone's body tolerates probiotics differently, and your doctor will know best whether probiotics will be beneficial to your health or not.
Our bodies rarely acquire all the vitamins and minerals that we need to stay healthy and strong due to diet and lifestyle. This, unfortunately, can cause sickness or dysfunction over time. Thankfully reputable supplements are a good option to make sure you’re getting all the right amounts of nutrients that you need. Because you should only put third-party tested, clean ingredients in your body, I am picky about my vitamin sources, but Thorne is one of my trusted sources. They offer natural, clean, safe, and high-quality supplements to give you confidence that you’re taking the best care of your body.I use many of their products and love them so much! I want to make sure you have access to making good/clean supplement choices too! I’ve been able to negotiate savings for you to help you on your health journey. My readers can use this link for 15% off every purchase so you can feel better about purchasing directly from the manufacturer, ensuring quality, and get started living a healthier life today! Comment below with any questions, I’m always happy to help!Resources Wang, Y. and Shurtleff, D. Probiotics: what you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2019). Retrieved 10 July 2020 from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know Gunnars, K. Probiotics 101: a simple beginner’s guide. HealthLine (13 November 2018). Retrieved 10 July 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-101#bottom-line Omar, J. M., Chan, Y., Jones, M. L., Prakash, S., & Jones, P. J. (2013). Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons. Journal of Functional Foods,5(1), 116-123. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2012.09.001