Many people associate the word "bacteria" with germs that are unhealthy, but that's not always the case. Probiotics, for example, are proof that not all bacteria are bad. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics are defined as microorganisms that live naturally within our bodies. Located mostly in the lower digestive tract, when these healthy bacteria are joined by harmful bacteria, the body's systems may suffer, leading to weight gain, bowel problems and even certain chronic conditions.
But this doesn't mean your immune system and other bodily functions are in jeopardy. As long as you provide the body with more probiotics, you can eliminate the bad bacteria and improve your overall health and wellness. Here are a few of the many benefits of taking a probiotic supplement and including more probiotic-rich dairy products in your diet:
1. Improved immunity
Did you know that nearly 70 percent of the immune system is located in the gut? That means taking care of your intestinal tract is essential for healthy living. According to a study led by researchers at the School of Biomedical and Health Sciences at Victoria University, probiotics release specific strains that can enhance nonspecific cellular immune response. Probiotics are key to maintaining a healthy intestinal flora.
2. Enhanced digestion
Because bacteria functions mainly in the intestinal tract, taking probiotics can aid digestion, according to Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician.
"Probiotics can relieve cramps, gas and diarrhea."
"You can use probiotics to help bring the colon bacteria back into balance," he told Everyday Health.
Essentially, probiotics can provide relief for those dealing with cramping, gassiness or diarrhea.
3. Weight loss support
A report published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a certain strain of probiotic, can help women with weight loss. Though tested by both genders, researchers found that the group of woman who noticed LPR-induced weight loss continued to lose body weight and fat mass during the weight maintenance period. This wasn't the same for the men.
"We don't know why the probiotics didn't have any effect on men. It may be a question of dosage, or the study period may have been too short," Angelo Tremblay, co-author of the study told Science Daily.
4. Relief from chronic conditions and illness
Probiotic benefits go beyond digestive support. Because good bacteria is essential for a healthy immune system, taking probiotics can also help in treating or preventing the following chronic conditions, according to Harvard Health Publishing:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn's disease
- H. pylori – the cause of ulcers
- Vaginal infections
- Urinary tract infections in males and females
- Bladder cancer
- Eczema in children
For those interested in implementing a supplemental probiotic into their dietary regimen, consider the Longevity Science Advanced EnteroPro Probiotic. Each capsule has 50 billion organisms composed of various probiotic strains in a base of spinach powder (prebiotic).
As with any dietary supplement, be sure to speak with your doctor first.