What Side Effects Can You Expect From Them
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria found in your gut, and prebiotics are foods for these bacteria.
Together they can help to maintain a healthy immune system, reduce inflammation, improve digestion and nutrient absorption, regulate moods and behaviour, boost energy levels, fight allergies or chronic illnesses like IBS or Crohns disease.
But there are also some side effects that you might experience while taking probiotics or prebiotics.
For example, gas production , increased appetite , bloating . You may want to start with smaller doses of probiotic supplements until you see how your body reacts to them.
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What Really Happens To Your Body When You Start Taking Probiotics
What Really Happens to Your Body When examines the head-to-toe effects of common behaviors, actions and habits in your everyday life.
Probiotics, good-for-you bacteria best known for their connection to healthy digestion, naturally occur in plenty of foods â often the fermented kinds, including kimchi, miso and yogurt. They also come in the form of dietary supplements, and some food brands have taken to adding them to their products .
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Whether probiotics in food or supplemental form is better is still up for debate certain conditions seem to benefit from food-based probiotics, but this isnt always the case.
A December 2010 study in the âInternational Journal of Food Microbiologyâ examined human saliva and fecal samples after participants consumed either yogurt or probiotic pills and found that both options provided the body with comparable amounts of microorganisms.
Probiotics get their good reputation for benefiting gut health, but they can potentially support the entire body, according to the Cleveland Clinic. While probiotics are naturally part of the human system, increasing your intake â through food or supplements â can be a good way to improve your health.
Although more research is needed to understand the exact impact of the gut microbiome when it comes to heart health, we now know our gut affects more than digestion.
Did You Know That Your Digestive System Plays A Role In Your Overall Health
Your digestive system is an extremely complex environment that performs many vital functions. The small intestine acts as the main site of enzymatic digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients. The large intestine or colon absorbs large quantities of water and electrolytes and helps to remove waste matter and other substances your body does not use. The large intestine is also responsible for the regulation of intestinal well-being, particularly through its complex microflora that contributes to the maintenance of intestinal function.
Why Is Maintaining A Healthy Balance Of Microflora In Your Gut So Important?The gut microflora of every individual consists of various microorganisms that live in the intestinal tract. When the intestinal microflora is out of balance, that imbalance may affect overall health. This balance can be disturbed during times of stress, with age, in menopause, when taking medications, with an unbalanced diet, and in the event of acute or chronic intestinal disease.1
There is good reason to add probiotics to your daily routine. Probiotics have been shown to provide specific health benefits such as supporting gut and immune health and contributing to the maintenance of a balanced gut microbiota, important for the proper functioning of the digestive system and the entire body.
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Where Can Probiotics Be Found
Probiotics come from either supplements or foods. Supplements may contain higher levels of probiotics, yet food sources provide nutritional benefits in addition to probiotics. Probiotic bacteria have long been associated with dairy products because some of the same bacteria that are used in fermented dairy products also make up the intestinal microbiota.
Dairy products are a desirable probiotic delivery vehicle for several reasons:
- Dairy foods can protect probiotic bacteria from high acid levels in the stomach, allowing higher levels of probiotics to reach the intestine.
- Refrigeration of dairy products helps promote the stability of probiotics.
- People are often afraid of bacteria in foods but have a positive perception of the terms live, active cultures linked to fermented dairy foods.
Probiotic-containing dairy products have healthy functional-food properties. Probiotics provide an added value to milk products that already have high levels of vitamins, minerals and protein needed for healthy growth and development in children and disease prevention and wellness in adults.
Where Do You Find Probiotics
Fermented or cultured dairy products are a major source of probiotics. Other sources of probiotics include
- fermented milk.
The bacteria either occur naturally in these foods or have been added during preparation. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements in capsule, tablet or powder-form.
Here are the most common strains of probiotics:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Enterococcus faecium
- Saccharomyces boulardii.
Bifidus regularis, a name created for marketing purposes by Dannon, is also known as Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010. This strain of probiotics is used exclusively in Dannon’s popular Activia products, which Dannon claims promote regularity.
Keep in mind that in order for a yogurt to be considered probiotic, it must contain one of the strains listed above. All yogurts are required to be treated with the strains Lactobacillus bulgaricusand Streptococcus thermophilus.
Food marketers have found a new niche with probiotic-containing foods, which include
- Probiotic cereal
- infant formula.
However, their claims may be based only on preliminary scientific findings.
More research is needed to see whether probiotic bacterias’ beneficial effects are the same when they’re treated or added to food products. Dried probiotics may survive a trip through the intestines if prepared and stored properly. Heat often kills live active cultures.
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Probiotic Foods Or Probiotic Supplements: Which Is The Best Way To Get Probiotics
Probiotics can be consumed through fermented food, such as yogurt kefir aged cheeses, like Parmesan or aged cheddar kimchi sauerkraut miso tempeh, and non-dairy yogurts that indicate they are cultured.
While there is no recommended daily amount for probiotics, if these arent foods you typically eat, it may be a good idea to consider a dietary supplement. Omni-Biotic offers a range of probiotic supplements for different conditions, and you can take our Probiotic Fit Quiz to find the best product for you.
Probiotic supplements contain different strains of live organisms which are often used for different conditions, so its important to research what combination of strains may be best for your needs and maybe talk to your doctor or dietitian first.
How To Tell When Probiotics Are Working
Good health starts in the gut, and its best to address any presenting digestive symptoms regardless of which health condition youre trying to support. If people are generally well or have good digestion, they may not initially notice a drastic change when they take a probiotic supplement. But so many different things can affect the gut microbiome, such as medications, stress, and poor diet, that its always good to keep the gut microbiome well supported by taking probiotics and eating fermented foods. Also, over a longer period of time they may notice positive changes, such as less frequent colds or skin breakouts. For others, when they are taking a probiotic supplement for a specific condition, they may notice a specific improvement in that area. However, having a healthy microbiome is just one consideration when supporting any health condition for a fully holistic protocol a doctor should be consulted, and a health professional such as a nutritional therapist, who can also advise on diet and lifestyle.
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Are There Any Risks Related To Probiotics
Probiotics are generally considered safe. However, there are some risks linked to the supplements. These risks are increased if you have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, have recently had surgery or have other serious medical conditions.
Unlikely, but possible, risks can include:
- Developing an infection.
- Developing a resistance to antibiotics.
- Developing harmful byproducts from the probiotic supplement.
The Benefits Of Probiotics
In every healthy digestive system, there is a balance. Probiotics help to achieve that balance. There are many reasons a digestive system becomes unbalanced. These include illness, taking antibiotics, a poor diet, or an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Gastrointestinal problems can result from such an imbalance.
More research on probiotics is needed. However, there is evidence that:
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Probiotics Might Help You Lose Weight
The connection between your gut health and the number on your scale is starting to become more apparent, says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., author of Eating in Color. We need good bacteria to break down our food and absorb nutrients from food, she says.
That may play a role in the number on your scale. According to one meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that healthy people who took probiotics for more than eight weeks experienced a modest dip in their BMI and weight.
Plus, your gut plays a role in your appetite by telling your brain when to stop or keep eating. Probiotics, research suggests, may actually help keep your cravings in check by manipulating hunger-inducing hormones, but more human-based studies need to be done to know for sure.
Benefits Of Probiotics For Gut Health
The digestive system is home to many different kinds of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and more.
Probiotics can help stimulate the growth of good bacteria while also protecting against disease-causing bacteria. Together, this mix of microorganisms is known as the gut microbiota or gut microbiome, and it plays a key role in the health of the human body.
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Common Types Of Probiotics
The two types of probiotics that people most commonly consume are strains of two species. To know which strain of probiotics you are consuming, you need to know how to read the labels. The two most common species are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
Probiotic strain names are labels as the initial of the species, followed by the strain name. Each strain will have a different effect on the body, so it can be helpful to know which ones you are consuming.
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What Are Probiotic Foods
You can consume probiotics from fermented foods and drinks and dairy products . Look for at least five strains of live and active cultures on the ingredientsâ list, but skip the more processed foods that claim to contain probiotics, like sugary beverages or even candy. Unsweetened Greek yogurt has the benefit of providing both a variety of cultures and filling protein.
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What Is The Difference Between Bifidobacterium Animalis And B Lactis
To complicate matters, Lactis strains are sometimes referred to as Bifidobacterium lactis or B. lactis, because B. animalis and B. lactis were previously considered to be two different species. The major strains of B. animalis used in probiotic foods and supplements for humans are the lactis subspecies and are generally obtained from milk.
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Speed Recovery From Illness
As well as reducing the risk of developing infections or disease, probiotics help the body to recover from current or previous illnesses.
One study involving mice showed that probiotic supplementation helped to protect mice from a viral pathogen. In this case, it was found that probiotic bacteria improved survival rates from the pneumonia virus.
The well-known strain Lactobacillus acidophilus encourages a natural resistance against certain illnesses. This was shown in a 2008 study on pigs infected with a viral pathogen. Some of the animals had been treated with an oral rotavirus vaccine, and some with L. acidophilus. When given the L. acidophilus, the pigs showed an enhanced immune response and were protected against the viral pathogen.
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They Can Affect Emotional Health Too*
Several studies have found that probiotics seem to reduce the bodys stress response and positively affect cognitive function.*
How? The mechanisms are complex, but good bacteria in the gut are capable of producing mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine.*
And because these bugs have a direct link to the central nervous system, via a pathway called the vagus nerve, they play a key role in regulating mood.*
And that can have real effects: In one study, when women were shown pictures of angry faces, those who ate probiotic yogurt twice a day for four weeks before seeing the pictures felt calmer compared to those women who didnt eat the yogurt.
Probiotics And Prebiotics: Working Together
Probiotics work better when they dont act alone. To get the full health benefit of probiotics, prebiotics are part of the equation, Dr. Eisendorf says.
Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that feed probiotic bacteria and help them grow. They exist naturally in most whole grains and beans, especially oats, beans, bran, whole barley and whole-wheat products, as well as many fruits and vegetables, including most greens, garlic, bananas, artichokes, asparagus and chicory root. Even red wine offers some prebiotics.
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Occasional Discomfort And Bloating*
An uncomfortable day for your digestive system could mean a ruined day for you.
Everyoneâs gut has trillions of bacteria in it. This community of bacteria is called the gut microbiome, and its makeup is unique to each person. Your gut microbiome can be affected by factors like diet, travel, lack of sleep, and stress. Be aware of how these factors play into your life so you can proactively maintain a healthy gut.
Probiotics user Catherine knows the struggle. âIâve experienced pretty terrible bloating off and on for a while.â Then, Catherine turned to Align 24/7 Digestive Support.*Â§ âIâve noticed a difference in feeling bloated less. I feel like overall, my health is improved by adding this into my regimen.â
You’ll Have An Easier Time Maintaining A Healthy Weight
If you’re trying to slim down, taking probiotics isn’t a bad idea. While experts agree these supplements are certainly not a “magic bullet” for weight loss, they can aid in your efforts.
“Certain probiotic strains help boost muscle mass and strength, while also supporting healthy weight management and exercise recovery through several different mechanisms,” explains Dr. Axe. “Probiotics seem to support a healthy body weight and body composition in several ways, including by improving insulin sensitivity, decreasing autoimmune response found in people with diabetes, helping to regulate one’s appetite, supporting absorption of nutrients that help fuel muscles and organs, and supporting liver and kidney health which are needed for detoxification, and regulating fat storage.”
According to Dr. Axe, certain probiotics can actually inhibit the absorption of dietary fat and increase the amount of fat excreted in bowel movements.
There’s an ever-increasing amount of research to support this. For example, a 2013 study found that when women who were dieting took a probiotic supplement, they shed more pounds than women who took a placebo pilland continued to lose more weight after they finished their diet. Another 2013 study found that when people drank fermented milk products with Lactobacillus gasseri bacteria, they lost 8.2 8.5% of their belly fat over the course of 12 weeks.
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Probiotics And Lactose Intolerance
People with lactose intolerance can often consume yogurt with few symptoms because of the probiotics it contains. These probiotics help digest the lactose in the small intestine before it reaches the colon. In addition, the yogurt starter cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus help break down the lactose. Yogurt is a good way for people with lactose intolerance to consume the recommended servings of dairy without experiencing uncomfortable symptoms.
Irritable Or Inflammatory Bowel
review concluded that a multi-strain probiotic might improve IBS symptoms. The researchers called for further investigations into whether strains of Akkermansia, Bacteroides, and Faecalibacterium bacteria could play a role in future therapies.
A different 2019 found that probiotics did not consistently support the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, except possibly for one type of the disease: ulcerative colitis.
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Issues To Be Aware Of
If you’re considering trying probiotics, there are a few issues you need to be aware of.
Probiotics are generally classed as food rather than medicine, which means they don’t go through the rigorous testing medicines do.
Because of the way probiotics are regulated, we can’t always be sure that:
- the product actually contains the bacteria stated on the food label
- the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect
- the bacteria are able to survive long enough to reach your gut
There are many different types of probiotics that may have different effects on the body, and little is known about which types are best.
You may find a particular type of probiotic helps with one problem. But this doesn’t mean it’ll help other problems, or that other types of probiotic will work just as well.
And there’s likely to be a huge difference between the pharmaceutical-grade probiotics that show promise in clinical trials and the yoghurts and supplements sold in shops.
Page last reviewed: 27 November 2018 Next review due: 27 November 2021