What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “bacteria”? If you're like most people, you associate the term bacteria with germs, infection, and disease. And while bacteria can certainly be associated with those things, that’s only a fraction of the story.
Bacteria actually reside on and within our bodies and are a crucial component of our health. In fact, through thousands of years of coevolution, these microscopic beings that call our bodies home have become an inseparable part of us. And this understanding of just how important these itty-bitty bugs are has created a booming industry of supplements known as probiotics.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the friendly bacteria that play a pivotal role in our health and explore if probiotic supplements are really all they're cracked up to be. Let’s dive in.
What Are Probiotics?
Your body is home to trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that collectively make up a complex and delicate ecosystem known as your microbiome. This intricate conglomeration of microscopic organisms is an inseparable part of you. In fact, this ecosystem of living organisms is so deeply ingrained in your body that you quite literally depend on them to survive.
You see, the organisms that make up your microbiome work alongside your own cells in specific ways to keep your body functioning. These strains of beneficial microbes that support and enhance your body are known as probiotics. “Probiotics” is a blanket term that encompasses a variety of microorganisms that have been found to play an advantageous role in your health.1
And an important part of sustaining a healthy population of probiotics in our microbiome is ensuring they have plenty of food – also known as prebiotics.
Prebiotic Vs Probiotic
Prebiotics are a type of carbohydrate or fiber that your body can’t digest. While that might not sound like a good thing at first, it’s actually beneficial. That’s because this undigested fiber makes its way to your lower digestive tract where it serves as a crucial source of nutrients for the microorganisms that live in your gut.2
Prebiotics and probiotics work in conjunction to help create a flourishing and efficient microbiome. Now let’s explore exactly why this is so important and the benefits of incorporating probiotics and prebiotics.
Benefits of Probiotics
When your gut microbiome is out of whack it’s known as gut dysbiosis. And dysbiosis can have a laundry list of negative effects on nearly every facet of your health. That’s why reinoculating your gut with friendly bacteria can have far-reaching and impressive health benefits.
Some of the benefits of a balanced, happy gut with a thriving population of beneficial probiotics include:
An Enhanced Immune System:
Your gut is designed to help protect you from foreign invaders both structurally and with its ecosystem of microorganisms. You see, a large percentage of the cells and tissues that make up your immune system are housed within your gut – meaning the health of your microbiome directly impacts how effective your immune system is.3
Having a healthy population of probiotics is one of the most effective ways to boost your immune system and beef up your defenses against harmful pathogens. To learn more about the intricate connection between your gut and your immune system, head over and check out my article How to Heal Your Gut for a Stronger Immune System.
Lower Body Fat:
Studies have found a direct correlation between gut flora populations and body fat. The microbes in your gut can impact your weight in a number of ways, including:4
- Nutrient breakdown and absorption
- Hormone regulation
- Appetite, cravings, and feelings of satiety (fullness)
- Energy usage
- Inflammation levels
Having a diverse and healthy gut microbiome is one of the core pillars of addressing excess body fat.
The microorganisms that live in your gut play a crucial role in the breakdown, absorption, and excretion of the nutrients you consume. An imbalanced microbiome can lead to things like:
- Bloating and abdominal discomfort
- Constipation, diarrhea, flatulence
- Compromised nutrient absorption
- Inflammatory bowel conditions (like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
But a healthy population of probiotics can prevent and reverse many of these symptoms and keep your digestive tract running on all cylinders.
A Clearer Mind and More Stable Mood:
Did you know the gut’s nickname is the “second brain”? That’s because the brain and the gut are intimately interconnected via the gut-brain axis. This complex highway of communication channels makes your gut health a critical component of your mental health.5
In fact, gut dysbiosis has been directly linked to numerous mood disorders and can have a monumental impact on your overall feelings of happiness and well-being. Keeping your gut happy and healthy is one of the most potent ways to boost your happiness, stabilize your mood, and boost your mental energy. Click here to learn more about the fascinating link between the gut and mental health.
Clearer More Radiant Skin:
The skincare industry is a multi-billion dollar business – and they’d love for you to believe that the key to a clear glowing complexion is found in some cleanser or cream. While cleansers and creams certainly have a place in skincare, the truth is, radiant skin comes from the inside – and it all starts in your gut.6
Your skin is intricately intertwined with your gut health via your gut-skin axis. And disruption in the health of your microbiome can result in things like:
- Dry skin
- Dull complexion
- Skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis
- Increased fine lines and wrinkles
So how exactly do probiotics balance your microbiome and exert all of these impressive effects? Do they simply charge in and kill the “bad” bacteria”? Let’s investigate.
Do Probiotics Kill Bad Bacteria?
So, do probiotics kill “bad” bacteria, simply crowd them out, or merely add more “good” to balance out the bad? The answer is – all of the above.
You see, your microbiome is home to hundreds of different species of microbes. And for the most part, most of them are not necessarily inherently bad or harmful. But if certain populations go unchecked and their numbers become unbalanced, that’s when problems arise. Probiotic supplements work to correct this imbalance by reinoculating your gut with a concentrated dose of friendly bacteria that:
- Proliferate and increase the ratio of “good” vs “bad” microbes
- Suppress the growth and spread of “bad” microorganisms
- Promote diversity and balance amongst this delicate ecosystem
- Increase beneficial compounds and nutrients which bolster the integrity of your gut lining
This combination of side effects boosts your overall gut health and restores balance to your microbiome. Considering probiotics are so great at recalibrating your tummy, it makes sense to wonder – are probiotics helpful if you catch a stomach bug?
Probiotics for Stomach Viruses
While at first glance, it might appear that probiotics would be a simple and effective way to treat a stomach virus, it’s a little more complicated than that. Taking a probiotic isn’t necessarily going to help you eradicate a stomach bug – oftentimes, once a stomach virus is contracted, it simply has to run its course while your immune system does its job of neutralizing the nasty invader. But the good news is, probiotics can certainly help you bounce back faster.
Because a healthy gut and balanced microbiome is one of the core pillars of a high-functioning and effective immune system, taking probiotics on a regular basis – not just if you’re feeling a stomach bug coming on – is a powerful way to prevent contracting a virus in the first place. Plus, it’ll help supercharge your immune system – meaning you’ll be able to snuff out that stomach virus and recover faster.
It’s clear that being proactive and incorporating probiotics into your supplement routine can have some major benefits. So how do you go about finding the right probiotics for yourself?
What Are the Best Probiotic Supplements?
When it comes to choosing the right probiotics, each strain plays its own unique role. So, you want to focus on reinoculating your gut with a diverse range of beneficial microbes. For a simple and potent probiotic supplement regimen, here's what I recommend:
Each of these vegetarian, dairy- and gluten-free capsules contain four extensively researched strains of beneficial bacteria, including:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14
- Bifidobacterium longum Bl-05
- Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115
- Bifidobacterium lactis HN019
These live microorganisms have been tested for epithelial cell adhesion and resistance to low pH – meaning they make it to your gut intact and ready to get to work.
Spore-based probiotics are soil-based microorganisms that work in conjunction with your natural gut flora to support a healthy microbiome and protect the mucosal integrity of your gut. This specially formulated blend of spore probiotics includes:
- Bacillus coagulans
- Bacillus clausii
- Bacillus subtilis
These potent probiotics are also paired with serum-derived bovine immunoglobulins – a powerful compound that binds to and eliminates harmful microbes and toxins.
Bind-Aid is chock-full of propolmannan – a pure, natural soluble fiber that serves as a powerful prebiotic for your microflora. This fiber not only supports a thriving microbiome, but also promotes increased satiety, weight control, glucose and lipid metabolism, and bowel regularity.
You can find all of these gut-supporting, probiotic-boosting supplements on my online store. You can even get 10% off your first order by clicking right here.
So, Are Probiotics Really All They’re Cracked Up to Be?
The answer is a resounding yes! The health of our gut microbiome is undeniably a driving force that can support or deteriorate our health. Ensuring you have a diverse and flourishing ecosystem of friendly probiotics onboard is hands-down one of the most valuable investments you can make in your health.
But while just about everyone can benefit from incorporating probiotics into their routine, probiotics are certainly not a magic pill or quick-fix. There’s no amount of probiotics that can outweigh the effects of overall unhealthy lifestyle choices. The foundation of your health is built on your day-to-day choices about how you eat, move, sleep, and think. Probiotics are simply an added tool in your tool belt to enhance your health even more.
That’s why I’m dedicated to delivering research-backed, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-implement information to my patients and readers. That way you can create a lasting foundation of well-being and longevity without the overwhelm. So if you enjoyed this article and are looking for more ways to make your health a priority, I encourage you to scroll through my hundreds of blog articles and get on the list to receive my weekly newsletter – all you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form below.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn just how beneficial probiotics can be? What steps are you taking to keep your microbiome happy and healthy? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!
- Probiotics: What You Need To Know | NCCIH (nih.gov)
- Probiotics and prebiotics: What you should know – Mayo Clinic
- Immunity in the Gut | British Society for Immunology
- Probiotics and Weight Loss: How Probiotics Can Help You Lose Belly Fat (healthline.com)
- The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health (nih.gov)
- Gut–Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions (nih.gov)
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.