There’s been a lot of discussion around probiotics lately. The benefits have always painted the probiotic as an antidote to gut-health issues. A recent report suggests something different – it may be delaying recovery of your gut microbiome after antibiotic use. Let’s dig into what this means.
Your body is full of bacteria.“The right bacteria has been linked to numerous health benefits such as improved digestion, weight loss, better skin, enhanced immune function, and a reduced risk of many diseases,” says Dr. Susan Linder with HealthSpringMD. Specifically, we are talking about bacteria residing in your gut. The bacteria in your body outnumber your body’s cells 10 to 1, so let’s say they might be quite important. In fact, taking care of your gut, and the friendly bacteria that live there might be one of the single most important things you can do for your health.
So where have we started in terms of addressing gut health? Probiotics. Probiotics are found in supplements and foods prepared by bacterial fermentation (such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh) and are live microorganisms that help colonize our guts with health-boosting microorganisms.
Studies on probiotics are rapidly expanding. The evidence has shown that different probiotics seem to work for different health conditions. Choosing the right type (or types) of probiotic is essential for each individual. Probiotic supplements are considered safe and the only side effect might be a few days of bloating when first starting.
TAKE AWAY: Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed correctly. There are many different types of probiotics, and you can get them from foods or supplements.
Your Gut Flora and Probiotics
No, there are no beautiful flowers beginning to bloom in your gut. However, you do have hundreds of different types of microorganisms enjoying your gut such as bacteria, yeast, and viruses. Most of these microorganisms, known as your gut flora, are found in your colon, or the large intestine.
The gut flora performs a plethora of functions such as manufacturing vitamins, stimulating the immune system, regulate the integrity of the gut and turning fibers into short-chain fatty acids which helps perform many metabolic functions.
It is important to keep your gut flora balanced as an unbalanced gut flora is linked to diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s, type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and colorectal cancer.
TAKE AWAY: Your gut flora consists of hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Probiotics help your gut flora perform at its best.
Probiotics & Weight Loss
The bacteria in your gut as an obese individual will be different from those of lean people. Sounds unfair, right? Although it needs to be studied a lot more, some probiotic strains have been shown to help with fat loss.
In 2013 a study was published showing that over a 12-week period, people with lots of belly fat lost 8.5% of their belly fat mass by taking the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri. Interestingly, when they stopped taking the probiotic, they gained the belly fat back within 4 weeks.
However, this needs to be studied more before any recommendations can be made as some animal studies show that some probiotic strains could lead to weight gain, not loss.
TAKE AWAY: There is some evidence that the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri can help people lose belly fat.
Additional Health Benefits of Probiotics
To list all of the benefits of probiotics a book would be much easier than a blog. However, there are some that are worthy of being highlighted, although this is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Inflammation – reduce systemic inflammation, a leading cause of many diseases
- Depression & Anxiety – reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with clinical depression
- Blood Cholesterol – lower total and LDL cholesterol levels
- Blood Pressure – modest reductions in blood pressure
- Immune Function – enhance immune function and lead to reduced risk of infections
- Skin Health – useful for acne, rosacea, and eczema, as well as other skin disorders
TAKE AWAY: Probiotics have been shown to have numerous health benefits.
What Experts Are Saying About Recent Reports on Microbiome
With continued tests and researching, we are still exploring exactly what we need to do to keep our gut health care right. Recent studies suggest over the counter probiotics are actually giving us very little protection – they may not be effective at all. Some gastroenterologists have been wary that this has been the case all along – supplements just can’t replicate the incredibly complex microbiome to beneficial levels. This is especially the case for those who have taken antibiotics in recent years. Antibiotics may actually prevent our microbiomes from getting back into balance.
While we are still learning about this bacteria works, that doesn’t mean jump ship on probiotics. Depending on the quality and personalization, you’ll have to experiment with what works for you. If you can, invest in a medical-grade, shelf-stable product with soil-based organisms, as well as supplements that contain live and active cultures. Gut health is incredibly complex and we definitely know there are positive results when paired with diet and exercise.
See how probiotics can help you. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Susan Linder today.
Dr. Susan K. Linder a Diplomat of the American Board of Anti-Aging, Functional & Regenerative Medicine. She is also board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, with a subspecialty board certification in Pain Management. Dr. Linder is the Medical Director of HealthSpringMD conveniently located in Fort Worth, TX. For more information on nutritional health, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy and getting back to feeling great visit her website: www.healthspringmd.com or call today to schedule a time to meet with Dr. Linder 817-926-7671.