Probiotics have had their time in the media spotlight and as a result become something of a diluted health industry buzzword with many consumers misunderstanding their genuine purpose and the benefits of taking probiotics as a dietary supplement.
One too many yoghurt adverts have watered down the benefits to a basic “it’s good for your stomach” fundamental consumer opinion. It’s not entirely incorrect but it doesn’t do these magnificent little bacteria nearly enough justice. To start from the ground up, probiotics are living ‘healthy’ bacteria cultures similar to those found in the human digestive system. Though there are many variations, as an overall set of benefits to their supplementation, we’ve compiled a short guide.
Gut Health - Yes, the key benefit of supplementing probiotics is to improve the health of our gut. Though to be specific when we say improve health what we’re actually referring to is balance. The human digestive system particularly our intestines, has a very specific ecosystem of different bacteria living inside it. Many external factors can affect this balance. Everything from stress levels and lack of sleep, to poor diet, prescription medication and even smoking and alcohol consumption. When the bacterial balance of our gut is affected, it inhibits our body’s ability to perform a number of crucial tasks which can further benefit or be detrimental to our overall health.
Supplementing in healthy bacteria through taking probiotics can help keep the healthy balance at an optimal level and defend against the negative factors which affect us every day. As mentioned, having a healthy gut and bacteria balance is crucial to a number of basic bodily functions which it turn affect our health. These include:
Nutrient Absorption – Despite common consumer perception, the majority of our nutritional absorption from the food we eat actually takes place in the gut and not the stomach. Certain types of gut bacteria are responsible for breaking down and transporting nutrients from the food we eat in to the rest of our body to be used as intended. Without the correct balance we will get far less value from even the healthy foods we eat.
Insulin Response – Similarly to the breakdown of food for nutritional value, we also have bacteria in our gut responsible for triggering our insulin response versus the foods we eat. This is turn helps to regulate blood sugar levels which can cause hunger and cravings as well as triggering fat storage. It’s widely considered that supplementing probiotics will assist in faster weight loss when backed with other appropriate lifestyle changes.
As you can see, when broken down further, aside from promoting a “healthy tummy”, the mainstream media has played down the more complex but significant benefits of the regular use of probiotics in the diet. Though some specifically prepared yoghurts and other dairy products may contain moderate traces of what is considered to be healthy bacteria, choosing a solidly dosed and varied probiotic supplement on a daily basis is the only real way to ensure you are getting what you need to keep your inner balance versus the stresses and dietary pitfalls of modern day life.
Evidence so far would suggest that whilst pro-biotics can be beneficial, there isn’t one all-encompassing pro-biotic solution to suit all needs, and not all products you see available have the backing of the results from clinical studies. For instance, many people take pro-biotics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Around 10-14% of the population are thought to suffer from IBS. The pro-biotic B.infantis 35624™ was developed at the University of Cork and has been subject to much favourable research which has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Much of this research has been on the action of B.infantis 35624™ on the symptoms of IBS.
B.infantis 35624™ is only available in the product Alflorex, which is now available in the UK.