The health benefits and value of probiotics have been recognized by many ancient civilizations. Probiotics uses are diverse and dependant on the condition that each probiotics use can correct. There’s still a lot of research that needs be done. But, we have learned some of the disorders that the use of probiotics can help to treat.
Doctors often suggest the use of probiotics when you’re facing gastrointestinal ailments. But, there’s a lot more that these powerful microorganisms do for your health. Probiotics uses depend on the health problem that you want to solve.
Probiotics Uses You Should Know
I am going to keep this discussion plain and simple. Here are the probiotics uses that people follow for better health.
Your gut is alive with trillions of micro-organisms. They include viruses, yeasts, and bacteria. They are collectively called the ‘gut flora’ or microflora. Gut flora occurs naturally. A proper balance between these microbes is considered an essential part of the digestive process.
Most research on probiotics focuses on the value of probiotics on digestive health. There’s strong evidence that points to the value of probiotics in treating many common ailments, and even some that are not so common.
Probiotics Uses for Digestive Health
Value of Probiotics for Diarrhea
A number of studies have been done on probiotics uses for diarrhea. Common probiotics strains such as Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus Casei, Lactobacillus Bulgarius, Saccharomyces Boulardii, and Streptococcus Thermophiles can help decrease the symptoms and occurrence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
They are particularly effective when you take them as probiotic supplements during and after antibiotic treatment. They can also reduce the risk of a traveler’s diarrhea by almost 50%. Probiotics are highly effective in treating the acute onset of infectious diarrhea in both children and adults.
Value of Probiotics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
The symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Studies point at strong evidence of probiotic supplements as a cure for these symptoms. Probiotic Lactobacillus has been shown to help children between the ages of 5-14 years who suffer from IBS. This supplement helps to reduce the frequency and severity of IBS symptoms.
Other studies show that Bifidobacterium Infantis may be the best probiotic for IBS symptoms like abdominal pain and irregularity in female patients.
Probiotics Uses for Lactose Intolerance
Various species of probiotic bacteria help to treat lactose intolerance and gastric distress. They are able to do that by producing lactic acid and the enzyme lactase in the gastrointestinal tract. This is particularly helpful for people who cannot effectively ingest dairy products.
They also create a friendlier environment for the growth of other probiotic microbes. A balanced microflora leads to better colon health as well as improved immunity.
Examples of the lactic acid bacterial group that breaks down lactose and sugar in the body include Lactobacillus, Streptococcus Thermophilus, and Leuconostoc Mesenteroides.
Probiotics Uses for Other Digestive Disorders
Results from dozens of other studies point to the value of probiotics to some digestive disorders. Examples of conditions that the use of probiotics can help with include Helicobacter pylori infections (linked to stomach cancer and ulcers), constipation, bloating, flatulence, and nausea.
Even some inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease respond to the use of probiotics.
Probiotics Uses for Weight Loss
Yes, there’s evidence that the proper composition of gut flora might be able to help you manage weight. It isn’t much though, so you might not want to start gobbling down supplements in the hope of attaining a perfect body just yet. The connection between probiotics and weight loss started with a 2006 Stanford University study. The study found that the gut bacteria of obese individuals differs from that of people with normal body weight.
A number of scientists believe body fat may be influenced by the bacteria in the gut. There’s still more research that needs to follow. But, the study found that certain strains of probiotics seem to help with promoting regular metabolism of fat and caloric content.
A study published in 2013 on the value of probiotics has been the most impressive. It involved 210 people with excessive belly fat (central obesity). Over 12 weeks, they were given Lactobacillus Gasseri, and lost 8.5% belly fat mass. After the probiotic was stopped, the belly fat started increasing again and within 4 weeks, they regained what they had lost.
Weird as this may sound, it happens in other species too. In some animal tests, fecal probiotic transplants from lean animals resulted in obese ones shedding weight. Apart from shedding weight, there are some probiotics that animal studies suggest could help with weight gain too.
Other strains like Bifidobacterium Lactis and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus have also shown promising results, especially in one study of women who were trying to lose post-pregnancy weight around their abdomen.
Research shows that certain probiotic bacteria can help with the maintenance of best body weight in obese patients. This is especially the case for those that have had surgery for weight loss.
More research needs to be done to really identify the best probiotics for weight loss. But, the overall benefits make it worthwhile to consider the use of probiotics in your diet anyway.
Probiotics Uses for Brain Health
This is my mainstay among all the probiotics uses for health. ‘Bacteria that’s good for the brain’ – It sounds weird, right? Well, some researchers at UCLA suggest that the regular intake of yogurt that contains probiotics might well increase your brain-function. How do they do this? Well, let’s get the medical jargon out of the way first!
There’s something called the gut-brain-microbiota axis, which is prone to immune-mediated deficits. In layman’s terms, this axis is part of the system that allows signals to transfer between your brain, gut, and bacteria.
Everyday psychological stresses can interfere with the functioning of this pathway. Lack of sleep, extended use of antibiotics, and a poor diet can make the effects more severe.
People who suffer from anxiety may also have an overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans in their bodies. The overgrowth has been blamed for disorders related to depression and anxiety. Now, this is where the use of probiotics comes to the rescue!
Probiotic lactobacillus supplements inhibit the growth of pathogens and improve digestive functioning. This helps to bring about a more relaxed frame of mind and soothe away stress and tension.
In fact, a study conducted to research the psychological benefits of consuming probiotic supplements found that each one of the 132 test subjects who suffered from depression-related symptoms felt their mood improve significantly after the use of probiotics!
Certain probiotic bacteria strains might just be able to fix any damage and improve brain functioning as a whole. According to the research, the use of probiotics in treating anxiety, mood swings, and anxiety-related disorders has proved highly beneficial. They help to change brain neurochemistry for better mental health. Probiotics also treat other disorders related to depression.
Probiotics Uses for Cardiac Health
The use of probiotics seems to have benefits for most parts of the body, including the brain. It shouldn’t, therefore, be surprising that they can help with disorders related to the heart and promote better cardiac health too.
We have already discussed the probiotics uses for treatment of obesity. Let’s remember that obesity is one of the major causes of heart disease.
Here are the other probiotics uses for cardiac health:
Probiotics Uses for Treating High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is responsible for the clogging of arteries. This reduces blood supply in the heart, increasing the risk of cardiovascular conditions. At the 2012 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, research was presented linking the use of probiotics to lower cholesterol levels.
The study revealed that blood LDL (bad cholesterol) levels could be lowered by a probiotics use. The formulation contained Lactobacillus Reuteri NCIMB 30242, which could lower cholesterol esters linked to saturated fatty acids.
Probiotics Uses for Treating Blood Pressure
Other related research found that milk fermented using LAB strains can also reduce blood pressure and help to maintain it on a regular basis.
Probiotics Uses for Maintaining Glucose Levels
The use of probiotics can also be helpful at lowering glucose levels in your body. We know that uncontrolled glucose levels can lead to cardiovascular ailments as well as other problems like diabetes.
The Value of Probiotics for Vaginal Health
Vaginal microflora has a delicate balance. It can easily be disturbed by a number of factors like antibiotics, exposure to pathogens and improper diet. In fact, one report concluded that an alarming 75% of women worldwide suffer from yeast infections during their reproductive years.
Nearly half of them suffer recurrent infections. Candida infections are another common complaint experienced by 5-8% of all women.
Research into probiotics uses has some good news for women’s health:
Certain species of bacteria have been identified as effective at protecting against bad bacteria and yeast. These are the acidophilus bacterial (acid-loving) strains of the lactobacillus genus. The bacterial strains have shown extensive benefits in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.
They can inhibit the growth of Candida Albicans, Gardnerella Vaginalis and other pathogens. The species also keep unfriendly bacteria from attaching themselves to the vaginal lining.
They may also play a special role in the health of pregnant women. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to vaginal infections. Vaginal infections during labor can lead to preterm labor and other complications.
A study involving 125 women diagnosed with bacterial vaginal infections found probiotics to be more than twice as effective as standard antibiotic therapy.
Vaginal suppositories with lactobacillus acidophilus can help prevent or manage vaginosis and yeast infections, or support antibiotics used for treatment.
Probiotics Uses for Allergies and Immune Health
At the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia, researchers are studying the use of probiotics as a treatment for curing children of serious peanut allergies. Children were given Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and peanut flour. An astounding 80% could gradually tolerate peanuts after 18 months. This is without, doubt, another milestone in the probiotics uses for optimum health.
Note that the use of probiotics for allergies is not restricted to peanut intolerance alone. Probiotics can be used to reduce and treat the symptoms of all kinds of food allergies in people of all ages.
This success has been attributed to the strengthening of the immune responses. Probiotics respond to stress levels in the body, activating and stimulating the immune system. Several strains of probiotic bacteria have proved to be effective at strengthening the functioning of the body systems. They also strengthen the immune system against various infections.
Body systems that are able to resist gems and a stronger immune system lead to reduced infections. In one study, a group of students showed increased lymphocytes production when they were given a fermented dairy drink. Increased lymphocytes production is an indication of a better immune response.
The use of probiotics may even be able to replace childhood vaccines. Note that vaccines may suppress the body’s natural immune response and only combat a single viral strain at a time. They may also put the immune system at greater risk by encouraging virus mutation.
The immune protection a baby receives from the good microflora in mother’s milk increases if the mother has probiotics before and during pregnancy! Probiotics Uses are so large and wide! We still go on …
Value of Probiotics for Skin Health
Another notable value of probiotics on human wellness is that they can improve skin health. They can reduce the symptoms of acne, psoriasis, eczema and other skin diseases. Many consider the use of probiotics for acne to be just a marketing fad, but research proves that there may indeed be some truth in these claims after all.
Here are common probiotics uses for skin health:
There have been three large studies that focused on the link between consumption of dairy products and acne. However, they did not study the effects of the use of probiotics themselves. So, it’s possible that fermented dairy products do not cause skin disorders the way certain milk-based foods do.
The health of your skin is linked to the health of your gut. A poor balance between good and bad bacteria can lead to skin inflammation and disorders. Promoting a better balance of gut bacteria can actually help reduce these conditions and related skin issues.
Certain extracts from probiotic dairy-based products and fermented foods have been found to reverse the effects of gastrointestinal disorders. They successfully reduce acne caused by digestive problems.
Other studies show that probiotics passed on from mother’s milk and during childbirth can help prevent and treat childhood eczema. The use of probiotics leads to a better immune response, better digestion and overall health in children.
Other Probiotics Uses
In addition to treating ailments and promoting better health, some probiotics can even manufacture vitamins. They can help with the absorption of nutrients in the body as well.
Examples are B vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, and biotin. Bacterial strains like Lactobacillus Brevis help us absorb Vitamins D and K by synthesizing them in the gut. Other bacterial strains like lactobacillus acidophilus improve the absorption of nutrients and vitamins from the food we eat.
Here are some other use of probiotics to our health:
Use of Probiotics in Fighting Osteoporosis
Probiotics are a rich source of lactic acid, organic compounds that stimulate the body’s capacity to absorb vital minerals like calcium. Calcium helps in strengthening bone mass and density. The presence of too much toxic bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to weak and brittle bones. Regular intake of probiotic supplements and foods may also reduce the damaging effects of osteoporosis.
Probiotics Uses for Alleviating Menopausal Symptoms
No, probiotics cannot stop menopause from occurring! But, they can help with the recycling of estrogen to delay or reduce the onset of peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms. The use of probiotics can also be used to treat age-related conditions like osteoporosis, which go hand in hand with menopause.
Value of Probiotics for treating Urinary Problems
Probiotics-rich diet helps decrease the chances of contracting urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men, women, children and even pets. They’re particularly useful at combating UTIs that occur after taking antibiotics. They do this by encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria (that crowd out bad bacteria) in the urinary tract and its adherence sites.
Value of Probiotics to Fight Cancer
A healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut can help avoid cancer and reduce bladder cancer recurrence. Probiotic bacteria produce enzymes that impede the production of tumors throughout the body. Some strains even have the ability to promote detoxification and aid in the absorption of nutrients and antioxidants.
The Value of Probiotics for Fighting Radiation Damage
Probiotic-rich diets could also help protect your body from radiation (through X-rays and CT scans, for instance). While more research is needed to correctly identify the link, many believe that adequate probiotic content in the body prevents damage to the small and large intestines through radiation.
Use of Probiotics to Fight Infections
Many probiotic microbes produce antibacterial agents that combat bad, disease-causing bacteria. They prevent the bad bacteria from spreading in the body by changing the local levels of acidity, depriving them of nutrients. They can also produce bacteriocins, natural antibiotic-like substances that kill bad bacteria.
Value of Probiotics in Fighting Gluten-Induced Conditions
The use of probiotics can also be valuable for treating the symptoms and effects of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
Use of Probiotics to Fight Liver Diseases
Specific good bacterial species and strains like Leuconostoc Mesenteroides also seem to offer benefits in treating liver disorders like cirrhosis and fibrosis.
Conclusion: Probiotics Uses
All in all, the results gathered on probiotics uses so far seems to state that they are a crucial part of our digestive system. They are the body’s natural defense against infections and diseases.
If you’ve been suffering from health problems that don’t go away, the use of probiotics might just be the right path. The world is waiting for extensive research and all the possible benefits. No one knows when it will be coming.
But, the regular intake of foods with probiotics and probiotic supplements really can’t hurt! The value of probiotics to health cannot be overstated!
Find more answers to your questions about probiotics on our Probiotics FAQs page.