Bacteria live inside everyone’s body. Some bacteria are good, and some are bad. Most bacteria live in the stomach and work to improve digestion, boost immune function, reduce the risk of certain medical conditions, and even help with weight loss. Probiotics are good bacteria that provide a range of benefits for your gut and overall health.
You can find probiotics in various foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha. However, most people don’t consume enough of these products to sustain healthy levels of good bacteria in their gut. Additionally, many people have lactose intolerance and can’t eat yogurt or other dairy products that contain probiotics.
If you’re not getting enough probiotics in your diet, you could take a supplement to help the good bacteria living in your digestive tract thrive.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms, also called gut flora. The digestive tract contains these good bacteria as well as fungi, viruses, and archaea.
Most of your gut flora is in the large intestine. Bacteria in your gut perform various functions to keep you healthy, such as manufacturing vitamins B and K. They can also turn fiber into short-chain fats to strengthen your gut wall and stimulate your immune system.
Gut flora is sensitive to what you put in your body. Your diet can significantly influence the bacteria in your digestive tract and how it affects other bodily functions. Some diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer, have been linked to unbalanced gut flora.
Choosing the Right Probiotic
Probiotics contain various strains that can benefit a person’s gut health. When you’re looking for a supplement to take, you should pick one that contains at least one of these strains:
- Bacillus coagulans
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis
- Bifidobacterium infantis
Researchers have found that some strains can help your gut flora flourish to improve gut health. They can also effectively treat medical conditions and manage symptoms associated with:
Instead of turning to stool softeners and laxatives, changing your diet and taking a probiotic could help. It can also reduce the occurrence of feeling bloated after eating. Some common probiotic supplements on the market to relieve constipation include:
- Nutrition Essentials Probiotic
- Garden of Life Colon Care
- Lion Heart Pride Probiotics
Taking an antibiotic is a common cause of diarrhea. Unfortunately, it destroys good bacteria along with the bad. You can improve the unpleasant symptoms that come with diarrhea by taking a probiotic containing one or a combination of these strains:
- Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
- B. coagulans
- S. boulardii
Probiotics some experts recommend for diarrhea include:
- Bio Sense Probiotic
- Garden of Life Raw Probiotics 5-Day Max Care
- Florastor Maximum Strength Probiotic
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause nausea, bloating, lower abdominal pain, and gas. The results of one study showed taking a probiotic can effectively alleviate these symptoms.
Another study showed significant relief in bloating and pain from certain probiotics believed to increase melatonin in the body, a hormone that aids in digestive function.
Probiotics that could manage IBS include:
- Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic
- Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel Support
Finding a probiotic supplement that maintains a healthy gut and reduces or eliminates symptoms of various gastrointestinal issues can take some time. You might have to endure some trial and error before discovering which one helps the most.
Additional Benefits to Probiotics
Whether you consume enough probiotic-rich food or require a supplement, you improve not only your gut health but also promote a range of other benefits.
Probiotics have been shown to shift the balance of bacteria in the gut to boost immunity against infections, allergies, and other conditions. They also reduce inflammation, a common risk factor for many illnesses. The strains associated with these positive effects include:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus GG
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Lactobacillus crispatus
Your brain may also benefit from taking a probiotic supplement. Studies have found a strong link between brain health and gut health. Bacteria found in the colon digest and ferment fiber into compounds known as short-chain fatty acids. Researchers discovered these compounds could improve brain functioning and manage symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism.
Probiotic supplements might contain certain bacteria that could also reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol in the body. The strains that seem the most effective for this purpose include:
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus reuteri
If you’re experiencing gastroenterological problems, it’s best to speak with your gastroenterologist to determine the cause of your symptoms. Discuss starting a probiotic supplement regimen and listen to your doctor’s recommendation about which ones might help.
At Gastro Care LI, our team of professionals provides a range of healthcare services for our patients. We know how challenging it is to experience daily pain, discomfort, and other symptoms that diminish your quality of life. You should speak with us immediately to learn about the treatments to improve your GI health and overall well-being.
Call us at 516-265-7049 for an appointment right now to learn about the available options for improving your gut health.