By now, you’ve probably already heard about probiotics, however you may be wondering: are probiotics just another fad, or is there really some science behind the health benefits?
Also referred to as “good bacteria,” probiotics are live microorganisms that exist naturally in the gut. Probiotics alter the permeability of the intestinal wall, and help to keep pro-inflammatory compounds from entering the bloodstream. As a result, they help prevent a wide range of chronic conditions and have been shown to help improve many ailments and conditions.
Trying to decide if you should start taking probiotics? To help you sort through the facts, check out these 7 proven benefits of probiotics featured in one of our recent “Get the Skinny” segments:
- Weight loss/weight control: Probiotics can improve blood sugar control and affect leptin sensitivity (a hormone that helps regulate appetite). Women seem particularly sensitive to the effects of probiotics.
- Boost mood and fight depression: Taking probiotics is linked with lower levels of anxiety and depression and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Probiotics appear to help reduce several markers of inflammation in the body.
- Boost immune system: Studies have shown that taking a probiotic may result in fewer (about 40% less) colds.
- Gastrointestinal and digestive health, including bloating, gas and diarrhea, as well as chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics may also help maintain remission/prevent relapse of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
- Urinary tract infections and yeast infections: Probiotic treatment can restore the balance of microflora that may be altered by a variety of factors, including birth control pills and antibiotics.
- Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and rosacea
Health effects of probiotics are strain-specific, meaning that the unique types of bacteria are effective for specific conditions. For a summary of probiotics shown to be effective for specific conditions, visit www.usprobiotics.org.
For more details on this topic, watch Molly’s full “Get the Skinny” segment on WGNO.com.