As science and technology continue to advance, we are finding out more and more about how functions in the gut can have an impact on our overall health.
One of the focus areas is how bad bacteria can affect mental function and when an array of studies is showing interesting results, it may be time to start thinking about how we can boost our overall gut health at home.
How probiotics work and benefit the body and mind
Probiotics have been widely available for quite a few years now and while many of us understand that they contain live bacteria, the reasons why are not particularly explained.
In theory, if you consume additional good bacteria, it will help to balance out bad bacteria. In practice, these types of supplements do just that and can actually work to stimulate overall good bacteria growth, as well as improve digestive function, accelerate the absorption of nutrients from food, medications and other supplements and even reinforce the stomach lining to help prevent bad bacteria from entering the bloodstream.
Here is a quick look at what supplements like probiotics can help with:
- Cognitive function
- Diarrhoea and constipation
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Gas and bloating
- Immune response
- Good moods
- Upper respiratory infections
- Heart health
- Weight loss
- Yeast infections and urinary tract infections
Signs of an unhealthy gut
When you have more bad bacteria than good in the gut, there can be some noticeable symptoms that you could address with probiotic supplements and a better diet. The main signs are:
- Upset stomach
- Unintentional weight loss/gain
- Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue
- Skin irritation
- Sudden food intolerances
- Bad breath
Top secrets for gut health
Alongside adding probiotics to your diet, another great tip is to eat more fermented foods for an overall healthier gut. Outside of improving your diet, there is some research to suggest the benefits of a healthy sleep schedule and minimised stress to support a healthy gut – and as probiotics can help to regulate moods, this is a double bonus.
Are probiotics safe?
You may still be wondering if probiotics are safe, as one of the biggest factors holding people back from taking them is the thought of consuming live bacteria, even though it is touted as being ‘good’.
The reality is that while there is a host of benefits, it may make you feel better to understand that these organisms naturally occur within the body and you probably already consume them (albeit in small amounts) in yoghurts, some cheeses and more. This means that taking probiotics for improved gut health isn’t generally going to be harmful.
These types of supplements can be taken daily for those who aren’t on any significant medication and there is currently no regulation on dosage.
As with any supplements, you may want to start low and build your way up until you find a dosage that suits your needs. It can be important to note that while probiotics are natural, it can still be worthwhile to seek medical advice before adding supplements to your diet, to be on the safe side.