You may have heard increasing talk of “gut health” recently, and there’s good reason for it. The health of your gut plays a major role in your overall health and well-being. The wrong bacteria in the wrong place can cause problems for your digestive and overall health, but the right bacteria in the right place can have benefits — this is where probiotics come in.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria/microorganisms that are good for you, especially your digestive system. Studies show they promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to a wide range of health benefits including weight loss. You can find probiotics in supplements and some foods, such as yogurt. There are many benefits to adding a probiotic to your diet:
- Some probiotic strains can help heart health by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Probiotics can help prevent and treat diarrhea. Often, diarrhea is a side effect of taking antibiotics, as they eliminate all bacteria in the digestive tract. You may have had a doctor suggest eating yogurt when prescribing an antibiotic for this very reason.
- Probiotics may improve some mental health conditions; studies link your gut health to mental health. Taking a probiotic supplement may improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Studies show that taking probiotics can help temporary inflammation and support your bones’ rebuilding process.
- Research indicates that regularly taking probiotic supplements can help your body manage blood sugar appropriately.
- Probiotics can support testosterone levels—one study also demonstrated that they may help promote reproductive health and fertility.
- Improve immune function
Where Do You Find Probiotics?
Fermented or cultured dairy products are a major source of probiotics. Other sources of probiotics include:
- soy beverages
- fermented milk