Read on to learn the top eight reasons why you should use probiotic supplements.
1. Support a Healthy Gut
As mentioned, one of the biggest reasons people take probiotic supplements is to support a healthy gut.
You can think of probiotics as your little helpers that restore harmony and order in your gut. If you have an imbalance in your gut, it means your gut contains too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. The biggest contributors to bad gut health include illness, medication, and poor diet.
For example, if you’re taking antibiotics, they can kill off some of the good bacteria in your gut. Or if you’re eating a ton of sugary and processed foods, you’re likely not getting the nutrients and good bacteria your body needs, leading to poor gut health.
Consequences of poor gut health may include indigestion, poor mental health, obesity, allergies, and more. By taking probiotic supplements, you can restore the imbalance of bacteria in your gut, leading to a healthier life.
2. Support Healthy Digestion
Another important reason to take probiotic supplements is to support healthy digestion. Probiotics play a key role in the breakdown and digestion of fiber-rich carbohydrates (also known as prebiotics).
Prebiotics are nondigestible fibers that offer nourishment to beneficial bacteria. You can think of them as the fertilizer for the good bacteria in your body. Some examples of prebiotic foods include:
In addition to stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotics may also help improve your metabolic health, reduce markers of inflammation, reduce appetite and cravings, and reduce body fat.
By adding probiotic supplements to your diet, your body can better digest prebiotics and reap their numerous health benefits.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of taking probiotic supplements is that they offer convenience. While there are many probiotic-rich foods, you may find that you don’t enjoy these foods, or you may have trouble incorporating them into your diet.
Examples of probiotic-rich foods include:
Kefir (a type of fermented probiotic milk drink)
Natto (a fermented soybean product)
Certain types of cheeses, such as mozzarella, gouda, cheddar, and cottage cheese
As you can see, many of these products contain dairy, so it may be hard for you to meet your probiotic needs if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant. Additionally, foods like tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi aren’t a part of many people’s regular diets.
This is where taking a probiotic supplement can be helpful, as you can meet all of your gut health needs without having to make large adjustments to your diet.
Generally, it’s best to take probiotic supplements about 30 minutes before a meal. They’re most effective if you take them before breakfast, as your stomach will be empty, making it easier for the supplement to reach your small intestine.
Taking your probiotic with dinner or a larger meal may be counterintuitive, as stomach acid that’s breaking down your meal may excessively degrade the probiotic before it has a chance to take effect.
Ultimately, though, you should take your probiotic supplements on a schedule that works for you, as consistency is important above all else.
4. Support Skin Health
Probiotics don’t just improve your insides—they can also help improve your outer appearance. In addition to having bacteria in your gut, you also have bacteria all over your body and skin.
Probiotics present on the skin can affect your skin’s microbiome, as opposed to the microbiome in your gut. By taking probiotic supplements, you may be able to find some relief from eczema, acne, psoriasis, or other skin conditions.
Probiotic supplements work by reducing inflammation and fighting the yeasts and bacteria that lead to skin conditions. One study found that women who took probiotic supplements for eight weeks saw improvement in skin inflammation and their skin’s barrier function.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it protects your body from numerous external threats. But you may not realize that your skin is also a reflection of your internal health. Skin problems are often a result of hormonal and nutritional imbalances, as well as disruptions in the immune system.
Therefore, by taking probiotic supplements and improving the balance of your gut, you may see healthier, glowing skin.
5. Support Immune Health
Your gut plays a crucial role in your immune health, as 70-80% of your immune cells are present in your gut. If you’re not keeping your gut healthy, you’re likely going to have a compromised immune system.
Probiotics can boost your immune system by inhibiting the growth of harmful gut bacteria. Additionally, some probiotics promote the production of natural antibodies in the body. This can lead to a reduction in the development of immunity-related diseases, including Type 1 diabetes, asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and eczema.
Probiotics can also help your body recover from current or previous illnesses. And the natural immune-boosting properties of probiotics can help your body ward off colds and the flu. One study found that taking probiotic supplements along with minerals and multivitamins reduced the duration of colds and the flu by two days.
6. Support a Healthy Weight
According to the CDC, over 40% of the American population suffers from obesity. Those who suffer from obesity are at a higher risk of various illnesses and diseases, including:
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure (hypertension)
High cholesterol levels
Coronary heart disease
Gut bacteria play an important role in your metabolism, and studies have found that the gut microbiome of those with obesity is different from the microbiomes of healthy-weight individuals. Obese individuals may not have the right microbiome balance to properly break down food, leading to weight gain or trouble losing weight.
While taking probiotic supplements alone won’t make you lose weight, they can also play a positive role in weight maintenance through a number of different mechanisms. For example, some probiotic supplements can prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine.
Probiotics can also help your body feel full for longer, store less fat, and burn more calories. This is partly due to the increase of certain hormones that help with your metabolic state.
7. Improve Some Mental Health Conditions
A number of studies have linked gut health to mental health and mood. Part of the reason is that the good bacteria in your intestinal tract support the production of hundreds of chemicals in your nervous system that regulate your mood.
In fact, 95% of your body’s serotonin (a chemical in the brain that helps stabilize your moods) is made in the gut. Replenishing your serotonin levels often is one of the best ways to support a healthy emotional state.
Good bacteria in the gut are also responsible for producing dopamine, another “happiness” chemical. One study looked at 70 chemical workers for six weeks and found that those who took a probiotic supplement or ate 100 grams of yogurt per day experienced improvements in their stress, anxiety, depression, and general health levels.
There is also a strong correlation between fatigue and mental health, as those who suffer from chronic fatigue are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Probiotic supplements can help with this as well, as fatigue is often a sign of poor digestion, which is a result of an unhealthy gut. By balancing your gut with a probiotic supplement, you may notice improved energy levels.
8. Improve Heart Health
Last but not least, probiotics may also help improve your heart health.
Probiotics can help your heart by reducing the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body. It does this by breaking down bile in your gut and preventing it from being reabsorbed by the gut. When bile gets reabsorbed, it can enter the bloodstream as bad cholesterol.
Seeing as heart disease is the leading cause of death in America according to CDC data, taking a probiotic supplement to aid your heart health can certainly be beneficial.
Incorporating probiotics into your daily routine can improve your health in many ways. In addition to improving the balance of bacteria in your gut, you may also notice improved skin health, heart health, mental health, and better digestion.
Plus, probiotics are super convenient and a great option for those who don’t enjoy or can’t consume probiotic-rich foods.