"There's no substitute for guts."
Keto diet? Vegan diet? Paleo? If you’re dedicated to staying healthy, you stay on top of new research about how to best fuel your body. Want a fast way and easy way to give your body an extra boost? Consider probiotics.
The benefits of balancing bacterial flora in the gut have journeyed far in recent years: from scientific studies to news headlines to now...supplements. And, unless you live under a rock -- and if you’re reading this and you live under a rock, well: congratulations -- you’ve taken notice.
So, do the benefits of probiotics actually go beyond the hype?
Yep! This is one case in which science actually supports the hype. Probiotics have been shown, in myriad studies, to directly enhance health. We all need balance in our lives….and, apparently, so do our guts. Probiotics, which increase our levels of bacteria, and prebiotics (which help the bacteria already there), help correct bacterial imbalances in your gut.
Let’s take a look at the top five reasons probiotics are so important to incorporate into your nutrition plan:
1. Probiotics Enhance Immune System Functioning (Really)
70-80% of the immune system resides within the gut. When bacteria is out of whack, humans suffer. Your small intestines are lined with lymph nodes. When triggered, intestinal inflammation helps your immune system attack viruses and bad bacteria. That’s great. What’s not great, however, is when inflammation is present but not called for. The result? Allergies, colds, and chronic infections. Probiotics can help ward off these ailments by preventing unnecessary inflammation.
A recent Cochrane Collaborative analysis found that people who eat fermented foods such as yogurt or take probiotic supplements are less vulnerable to upper respiratory illnesses such as the common cold.
2. Probiotics Can Keep Your Gut Healthy
Gut health and probiotics are, arguably, the most proven benefit to date. Probiotic therapy used to treat cases of diarrhea has shown efficacy by as much as 60% -- when compared to placebo use. Conversely, probiotics have been shown to ease constipation -- and can increase your number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3 while making them easier to pass (a good thing). Probiotics have been clinically proven, in smaller studies, to be helpful for those suffering from diseases such as Crohn’s or IBS.
3. A Probiotic a Day...Keeps the Allergies at Bay
Studies have shown that children with allergies actually have different bacteria in their intestines than children without allergies… and these differences start even before allergies manifest.
A study published in 2014 by Swedish scientists, indicates that babies born by caesarean have lower levels of good bacteria and, as a result, suffer from chemical imbalances in the immune system that make them more susceptible to allergies and eczema.
For those who suffer from allergies, good gut flora offers hope.
The research is backing this up: a study at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine analyzed results from more than 20 studies around allergies: researchers found that probiotics can help improve symptoms and quality of life for those suffering from hay fever.
4. Probiotics (Because Beauty is More Than Just Skin Deep)
Your skin is your largest organ -- and probiotics offer great promise in treating myriad skin conditions. It makes sense. Your GI tract and skin are both working to detoxify your body. If your gut is overloaded with more bad bacteria than good, it can’t do it’s job to the fullest extent...and inflammation gets triggered. That’s where probiotics come in -- studies show that by balancing bacteria, common ailments such as acne, rosecea, eczema and signs of aging are improved.
5. Probiotics Help Keep Your Weight in Check
Move over, Weight Watchers: a good balance of gut bacteria has been shown to contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. Research has shown that probiotics may actually inhibit the absorption of fat while increasing the amount excreted in bowel movements.
Probiotics could also help release more of the GLP-1 hormone, which can reduce your appetite while kickstarting your metabolism. And, if you’re not sold yet - probiotics may just increase levels of ANGPTL4, a protein that can reduce fat storage.
The bottom line? It takes guts...healthy guts...to fight off diseases and viruses: probiotics can help you do that.
What’s the best form of getting all this good bacteria into your body? High-quality, ‘living’ foods (containing different species of bacteria). So, it may be time for you to get proactive about probiotics: consider adding that yogurt, kefir, miso, and Kombucha to your next shopping list.
Another easy way to keep giving your body the nutrition it needs? Pure Plates. We help keep you, and your family, healthy with our 100% gluten-free, mostly organic and local, pre-portioned meals that are made fresh five days a week. Give us a call, write us an email, or hey: send us a message via carrier pigeon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hannah Ash, Journalist and Blog Strategist, Nutrition Fanatic
JoHannah Ash first discovered the transformative power of nutrition after struggling to shed post-baby weight: today, she is 100% committed to continuously learning about disease prevention, weight loss, and healthy living through the foods we eat. She spent a decade living in Burlington, Vermont, surrounded by pioneers in the 'local foods' and 'farm-to-table' movements -- and is proud to have been one of the first people to purchase (and wear) one of the now-famous 'Eat More Kale' shirts. When it comes to meal planning for her family, her philosophy can be summed up in three words: "Easy. Pure. Tasty."
Allergy and the gastrointestinal system:
Probiotic Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Decreased gut microbiota diversity:
A systematic review and meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of allergic rhinitis:
Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses fatty acid release:
Beneficial metabolic effects of a probiotic via butyrate-induced GLP-1 hormone secretion:
Decreased fat storage by Lactobacillus paracasei is associated with increased levels of angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4):