What are Probiotics and Why Take Them?

Probiotics are little bugs that keep your gut healthy and happy, and your gut is the key to a strong immune system.

What Exactly are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that produce some preventive or therapeutic health benefits. Naturally found in your body, they are live bacteria and yeast that are helpful for keeping you healthy. That may seem a bit strange if you’ve had the taboo mindset of these little “bugs,” but probiotics are actually good and friendly bacteria. Its medicinal history actually dates back several thousands of years.

Not only are they your friends. According to Frontiers in Microbiology, probiotics are your personal warriors fighting off the bad guys who want to create disease and destroy you. Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms make up these bad dudes who try to hunt you down, but probiotics are there to fend them off and kill them. They are molecular players that defend your immune system when they are able to colonize in adequate amounts.

So, where do they colonize? That would be your gut. Your gastrointestinal system is a very complex ecosystem, and probiotics help with digesting food, destroying pathogens, and producing vitamins which all take place in your gut. This is crucial because your gut health is also linked to a variety of diseases (not just tummy ailments). Your gut-brain axis controls biochemical signaling that takes place between your gastrointestinal tract and your central nervous system.

Why Probiotic Supplements are Necessary?

Being that your gut health is responsible for keeping you healthy, it’s important for your gastrointestinal system to consume plenty of probiotics from both food and/or supplement sources. Scientific evidence from hundreds of studies suggest that probiotics are useful with a number of health conditions, especially those that frustrate conventional medicine. Following are benefits that have been seen in the prevention and treatment of certain ailments. Notice that specific genera, species, and strains are beneficial for particular conditions.

What Can Probiotics Help With?

Probiotics Prevent Disease

Clostridium Difficile Infections: According to a 2018 report in the Journal of Hospital Infection, a probiotic formulation of Lactobacillus Adidophilus, Lactobacillus Casei, and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus has sufficient evidence for the [prevention of Clostridium difficile](https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701(18%2930229-9/fulltext) which is often contracted at hospitals or other healthcare settings. Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that causes inflammation of the colon with intestinal conditions such as colitis.

Escherichia Coli Infections: The Electron Physician journal reported a study demonstrating probiotics as a natural and modern method for prevention of Escherichia Coli and similar infections which exhibit symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever while more severe cases can lead to bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney failure.

Dermatologic Conditions: Reported in Healthcare (Basel), probiotics have the greatest clinical range amongst several nutraceuticals for ameliorating atopic dermatitis and opportunistic infections of skin burns. Another journal, Allergologia et Immunopathologia, also stated that probiotics are an applicable treatment for eczema.

Tooth Decay and Cavities: The International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research reported a four week study with high risk participants who were successfully treated with probiotics for tooth decay and cavities. Participants ingested 100 grams of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus La5 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 which significantly reduced the bacteria, Steptococcus mutans within two weeks.

Vaginal Infections: Decreased estrogen secretion in post-menopausal women depletes Lactobacilli which is needed for maintaining intravaginal health. Probiotics positively effects vaginal microflora composition by promoting the proliferation of beneficial microorganisms, altering the intravaginal microbiota composition, and preventing vaginal infections. Probiotics also reduce the symptoms of vaginal infections such as discharge and odors which is common in bacterial vaginosis and complicated vulvovaginal candidiasis.

Probiotics Treat Disease

Antibiotic Damage: While the widespread use of antibiotics over the past 80 years has saved millions of lives, it has also killed incalculable numbers of microbes – both good and bad. Probiotics have been proven to restore human microbiota after damage.

Atherosclerosis: The June 2018 journal issue of Atherosclerosis reported that metabolic products such as [probiotics are a novel approach in the treatment of atherosclerosis](https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0021-9150(18%2930200-4).

Cancer: The Oncotarget journal discusses the evidence of crosstalk between gut microbiota and cancer. In its April 2018 report, it stated that probiotics have the ability to modulate chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy while providing the possibility for therapy to improve the prognosis and quality of life of cancer patients. Studies have already been conducted in several neoplasms of colon rectal cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, and breast cancer. The journal of Food & Function has also shown Lactobacillus casei SR1, Lactobacillus casei SR2, and Lactobacillus paracasei SR4 isolated from human breast milk and applied as topical medication to be effective against cervix cancer cells.

Chronic Constipation: The Science China Life Sciences journal’s January 2018 edition reported that probiotic treatment in chronic constipation “improves clinical symptoms, promotes the recovery of intestinal flora, and has no complications during the treatment process.”

Helicobacter pylori: Several new studies show that Lactobacillus fermentum UCO-979C strongly inhibits and decreases the colonization of Helicobacter pylori by up to 87 percent which is a common cause of peptic ulcers, as well as chronic inflammation and infection in the stomach and duodenum.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome & SIBO: The first study on small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with the use of probiotics proved successful in the March 2018 edition of Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins. Both SIBO and IBS was decreased by 71.3 percent in all test patients. Specific probiotics used included Saccharomyces boulardii, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus Plantarum which were administered through an oral capsule every 12 hours for 30 days.

Major Depressive Disorder: According to an 8-week study reported in Clinical Nutrition, [depression can be significantly reduced with probiotics](https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(18%2930161-4/fulltext).

Metabolic Disorders: An in-vitro study published in the May 2018 issue of Nutrients highlighted the potential of Lactobacillus Plantarum Ln4 as a therapeutic probiotic agent for metabolic disorders such as diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance.

Respiratory Tract Infections: The European Journal of Pediatrics reported that probiotics reduces the length of respiratory tract infections.

Probiotics Will Bring You One Step Closer to Being Healthy

Over the last several years, probiotics has been talked about extensively in media. They have been touted as wonderful for your health. Perhaps you’ve even taken them in supplement form because your doctor or a health-conscious friend recommended them, but hopefully you now have a better understanding of its importance.

Protecting microbes for better gut health is crucial, and probiotics are insurance for your body. They fight off pathogens and create a stronger immune system. Not only will they prevent intruders, but they will also hack any enemy that tries to attack. Learn more about the best probiotic foods and supplements.

If you want to learn more about probiotic foods, check out this article: 17 Probiotic Foods to Build a Strong Internal Army.


Dr. Abby Campbell
EditorDr. Abby Campbell
Dr. Abby Campbell
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Dr. Abby Campbell
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