Probiotics are bacteria or yeast introduced to the body to aid in total body health.
It may seem counterproductive to purposely consume microorganisms but our body naturally contains many beneficial bacteria – the digestive system alone contains more than 500 such organisms – that help to keep our complex processes running smoothly.
Maintaining the proper balance is crucial to our health. Both good and bad bacteria keep our immune system strong – vitally important if your body is forced to deal with a much bigger threat such as traumatic injury or operation recovery.
With the explosion of antibacterial products on the market – everything from hand soap to cleaning products to clothing – our immune systems are no longer accustomed to simple germs.
One: Probiotics Benefits and Immune System Health
When your immune system is weak, recovering from simple illnesses such as colds and the flu, infections or surgeries is much more difficult and takes far longer.
After taking antibiotics, our natural balance of good bacteria is disrupted because though antibiotics kill the bad bacteria causing the problem, they also kill much of the good bacteria that your body depends on.
Stefano Guandalini, MD and professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, states, “The immune system isn’t being properly challenged by pathogenic organisms. Introducing friendly bacteria in the form of probiotics is believed to challenge the immune system in healthy ways.”
Two: Probiotics Benefits and Diarrhea Prevention
One-third of the people prescribed antibiotics develop diarrhea and probiotics benefits have proven extremely successful in treating this side effect. An analysis by the Journal of the American Medical Association of more than 80 prior studies found that probiotics reduced antibiotic-induced diarrhea by as much as 42%.
A study done at Yale University researched the effectiveness of probiotics on many bodily systems.
Probiotics had a positive effect on preventing diarrhea, regulating immune system responses, treating and preventing eczema and easing the discomfort and occurrence of digestive disorders.
Another study showed that 19% of the 600 plus day care children given a probiotics yogurt drink were less likely to contract ear infections, colds, diarrhea or strep throat.
Three: Probiotics Benefits and Fighting Infection
During a small study conducted at China’s North Sichuan Medical College and Hospital, researchers found that patients who suffered from traumatic brain injury also had compromised immune systems that were unable to fight infection.
Patients given probiotics in their feeding tube recovered faster and spent less time in intensive care than those patients treated with standard care.
Their bodies contained more infection-fighting T-cells, low levels of which can leave patients who are in fragile health susceptible to pneumonia and sepsis.
Study supervisor, Professor Jing-Ci Zhu, explained the benefit of an increase in T-cells. “Probiotic therapy reduced the number of infections occurring after seven days, reduced the number of different antibiotics needed to treat infections, and shortened the length of time the patients were required to stay in ICU.”
In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that good gut bacteria sets the tone for how the rest of the body deals with infection and fights viruses.
Friendly bacteria helps the immune system respond faster and more effectively against a viral or bacterial threat.
The Cochrane Library journal published a similar study out of China that determined that probiotics benefits reduced the risk of upper respiratory tract infections by 12% in the 3,400 participants analyzed.
The British Journal of Nutrition found that infants given Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 experienced less infections during their first year.
Four: Probiotics Benefits and Mood Regulation
University College – Cork Professor John Cryan and his team found that probiotics benefits showed that it lowered anxiety, depression and stress in mice. Specifically, Lactobacillus rhamnosus altered brain chemistry and lowered stress hormone production. Cryan’s team believes good gut bacteria communicate with the brain using the vagus nerve.
Professor Cryan explained, “We could develop therapies that can treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut. You could take a yoghurt with a probiotic in it instead of taking an antidepressant.
These findings highlight the important role of bacteria in the communication between the gut and the brain, and suggest that certain probiotic organisms may prove to be useful in stress-related disorders.”
Nutrition – The Ultimate Key to Wellness
Nutrition is once again proven to be pivotal to overall body wellness. By adding probiotics to your diet, you can help your immune system stay strong, prevent digestive upset, fight infections, colds and flus more effectively and even regulate your mood.
If you currently have an auto-immune disorder, you should speak to your physician before increasing your intake of probiotics.
Additionally, it is important to research which strains of probiotics benefits are used in products you frequently eat such as yogurts and nutritional supplements.