Probiotics are bacteria, or live microorganisms that are found in fermented foods. According to scientific research, it is possible to treat and prevent some diseases, as well as improve your general wellness by consuming foods or supplements that are rich with probiotics. A healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive system is linked to an overall healthy state of the body and, surprisingly, mind. The health benefits of probiotics are not limited to only gut health — research suggests that the positive impact of probiotics goes beyond just physical well-being and has a lot to do with how we feel on a mental level as well. The list of health benefits of including probiotics into your daily diet is long, surprising and rather impressive:
Probiotics Improve Your Overall Health
A healthy and balanced amount of bacteria in your gut has a positive impact on the entirety of your body, not just the digestive system. A balanced gut ecosystem can normalize blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improve urinary health, help the functioning of kidneys, improve vaginal health, prevent heart disease and certain cancers. On top of these benefits, probiotics are known to prevent infections and destroy pathogens.
Probiotics Boost Your Immune System
Fun fact: 70% of our immune system is located, guess where? Right, our gut! According to research, some strains of probiotics may increase the amount of antibodies that your body produces. The gut bacteria can thus help in fighting infections and various inflammations.
Probiotics Improve Digestion
The main mission of probiotics consists in repopulating the gut with healthy bacteria in order to restore the balance of “good” and “bad” gut bacteria. If an imbalance occurs, meaning if there’s more of the “bad” bacteria than the good ones, it can have grave consequences for our health — digestive problems, mental health issues, allergies and overweight. However, restoring the balance instantly improves digestion and relieves symptoms of digestive problems such as diarrhea, colitis, irritable bowel symptom etc.
Probiotics Improve Your Mental Health
Another rather surprising consequence of restoring the health balance of your gut consists in its positive effect on mental health. There is now a growing body of evidence that suggests that there is a strong relationship between gut health and our mental health. Both human and animal studies suggest that ingesting either probiotic-rich foods or supplements may help treat symptoms of mental health issues such as depression, nervousness, anxiety and even memory problems.
Probiotics Are An Effective Weight Loss Aid
One of the primary direct consequences of ingesting probiotics and restoring your gut health is healthy and sustainable weight loss. Some probiotics prevent the absorption of fat in your intestines, while other help you feel full for longer periods of time, thus decreasing your appetite and overall food consumption.
Best Natural Sources Of Probiotics:
Kimchi is a Korean vegetable dish. The main ingredient of kimchi is fermented cabbage, mixed with a variety of seasonings. Not only does kimchi have a high content of probiotics, it is also particularly rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which makes it a perfectly healthy side dish.
Similarly to kimchi, sauerkraut is a German variety of fermented cabbage that is also very high in probiotics and lactic acid. As well as positively impacting gut health, sauerkraut benefits weight loss and is high in vitamin C.
Yogurt and other types of fermented milk are one of the best natural sources of probiotics. However, not all yogurt contains live bacteria so it is important to choose the right type and brand with live probiotics.
Kefir is a more Eastern European alternative to yogurt. Aside from being rich in probiotics, kefir is also very effective in improving bone health, digestion and boosting the immune system.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is not only rich in probiotics, but also antioxidants, helps balance cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of heart disease, may prevent certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.
How Do You Know Probiotics Are Working?
So you started actively including the mentioned above foods into your diet. But how do you know probiotics are working? If you listen to your body closely, you will notice that there are a few signs that the probiotics that you’re taking are being effective:
You experience more regular bowel movements.
You feel less discomfort when it comes to digestion (such as bloating, cramps, constipation or diarrhea).
You are losing weight.
You experience improvement in your mood and overall mental well-being.
A healthy gut bacteria balance is a delicate thing. There are many reasons as to why you might experience an imbalance, as well as they are many symptoms that point towards having gut bacteria issues (decreased immune system, low energy levels, bad mood, digestive discomfort etc). In that case, you may give probiotics a try. There are many supplements on the market, but it is recommended to try and include foods that are rich in probiotics into your diet instead.