Probiotics seem to be everywhere right now; in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, lining the supplement shelves, we’re even seeing them in the beauty and skincare section! Hearing about all the benefits of probiotics may have you wondering, “Do I need to take one?”
Defined by the World Health Organization, probiotics are “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” They are not chemicals like antibiotics, but cultures of live bacteria or yeasts that help to maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome. When your gut becomes unbalanced it can cause many health issues, such as gas, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and obesity. Probiotics have been shown to help “restore the healthy composition and function of the gut microbiome” and thus, help combat many of these troublesome issues.
Think taking a probiotic supplement could benefit you? Below we’ll discuss a handful of reasons why people may be adding a probiotic supplement to their daily routine.
When you need immune system support
Do you feel like you get sick every flu or cold season? If yes, then you may need to strengthen your immune system. 70-80% of your immune system resides in your gut and the health of your microbiome directly impacts the overall health of your immune system. Probiotics are a great way to help support your immune system and protect your body against harmful viruses.
When you’re taking antibiotics
Antibiotics are used to kill disease-causing bacteria in the body. This is good, but sometimes taking an antibiotic can trigger diarrhea. That’s because these strong antibiotics can kill our good bacteria while targeting the bad bacteria resulting in an unbalanced microbiome. Taking a probiotic while on antibiotics is a great way to help your body stay in balance and prevent a case of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
It’s important to remember to take your probiotic supplements at least two hours after taking your antibiotics to ensure the antibiotics do not kill the good bacteria in your probiotics!
When you’re having digestive problems (and when you’re not!)
If you constantly suffer from stomach problems such as gas, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea, your microbiome may be unbalanced. Taking a probiotic has been shown to help restore the balance of your gut microbiome and improve the functioning of your GI tract.
When you have allergies
Up to 30% of the general population suffers from one or more atopic diseases including allergies, asthma, and eczema. These are usually caused by heightened immune responses to common allergens, especially inhaled or food allergens. Probiotics have been shown to help alleviate allergic inflammation and food allergy symptoms. Another published study demonstrated that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei decreased the number of days preschool children with allergic rhinitis were sick over 12 months. If you tend to lock yourself inside during allergy season, then a probiotic may be what you need!
When you experience frequent yeast infections
If you suffer from frequent yeast infections, it could be a sign that there is a disturbance of the beneficial bacteria in your body. Studies have shown that supplementing with probiotics can improve symptoms of yeast infections and may also be able to prevent potential infections. Vaginal yeast infections are surprisingly common, as 75% of all women are likely to have a yeast infection at least once in their lives. While there are many treatment options, beginning to take a probiotic supplement is one of the easiest, all-natural ways to correct the loss of good bacteria and bring your body back into balance.
It can be difficult to maintain the balance of bacteria in your microbiome when things like diet, travel, and stress can throw it off. In some circumstances, eating plenty of probiotic-rich foods may not be enough, and a probiotic supplement may be able to help keep everything in line. If you find yourself experiencing any of these health concerns consider taking a probiotic supplement to help achieve a healthy microbiome, strong immune system, and an overall healthy body.