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April, 01 2019

7 impressive health benefits of probiotics

Sam @JdeV Stewarton store

The research on probiotics is ever-growing. As well as having localised health benefits (more directly affecting the gut and symptoms affecting the digestive tract) interestingly, we’re learning more as to how probiotics may be able to exert more whole-body benefits too. Here I run through some of the health benefits of probiotics as backed by research.

1 – Managing diarrhoea                               

Arguably one of the most distressing digestive symptoms is diarrhoea. This may happen as a one-off as the result of tummy bug; while sufferers of IBS may experience altered bowel movements more regularly. Plus, people who travel frequently may experience this periodically as they enter different climates where they are exposed to new foods and environments.

Whether it’s a bug or IBS at play, research has suggested that altered gut bacteria may still be at the root of the cause when it comes to altered bowel movements such as diarrhoea. However, this means that, by introducing good strains of bacteria in the form of probiotics, we may help to rectify the situation and manage some of the symptoms.

Specific strains of bacteria and beneficial yeasts including Saccharomyces boulardii have been found to be especially useful when helping to calm diarrhoea1 and may also help to protect against instances of traveller’s diarrhoea.

2 – Calming constipation                             

Whilst some people struggle with diarrhoea, for others, constipation is instead an everyday issue.

Although dietary and lifestyle habits, such as ensuring you drink enough water or eat enough fibre, are especially important if your gut is sluggish, sometimes an imbalance in gut bacteria could also be having a part to play.

A strain of bacteria called Bifidobacterium lactis is particularly prevalent in the large intestine, and actively increasing our numbers of this may help to regain some regularity in bowel movements.2

In addition to this, dietary prebiotics such as FOS may also make a helpful addition to probiotics to help manage the symptoms of constipation. Luckily, this helpful combination can be found in Optibac’s Bifidobacteria & Fibre product.

3 – Beating the bloat 

Bloating is up there with one of the most commonly reported digestive complaints, so what can be done to help? Whilst diet and lifestyle habits are an important consideration, research also suggests that the balance of bacteria contained in our gut, once again, could also be having an influence.

Prebiotics such as FOS work by providing a source of fibre to help waste move more efficiently through the gut. However, in addition to this, they also act as a food source for your good gut bacteria, therefore also helping to regain some balance in this department.

In combination with strains of bacteria, including lactobacillus acidophilus (primarily found in the small intestine) and bifidobacterium bifidum (primarily found in the large intestine), the addition of FOS creates a suitable pre and probiotic combination which has been found to be effective for managing symptoms of bloating.

Interestingly, probiotics may also even be useful for helping to support healthy weight management,3 rather than just managing more short-term bloating. As we are gradually learning more and more through research, it’s becoming much more apparent that, when it comes to a wide array of common health complaints, the gut seems like a good place to start!

4 – Supporting female intimate health

With fluctuating hormones to contend with throughout our lifetime, women often have a number of symptoms to deal with, from those associated with PMS, to menopause. One issue worth addressing,  which many women may feel too self conscious to discuss openly, is intimate issues such as thrush or cystitis.

As these conditions tend to be caused by opportunistic bad bacteria taking hold, by introducing specific strains of good bacteria instead, we may be able to help to overcome some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with these female health issues. This is the basis behind Optibac’s For Women product and it seems to be going down well with our customers!

5 – Supporting an under par immune system

If you’ve read some of our other digestive blogs on Jan de Vries, you may already know that up to 70% of our immune cells are believed to reside in the gut. This means, if your gut isn’t very happy, it can potentially impact badly on your immune health and you may notice that you’re feeling a little more run down.

However, to help turn this around, probiotics could again be a suitable solution and certain strains in particular have been studied specifically for their beneficial immunomodulatory action.4

6 – Addressing high cholesterol

Another largely unknown benefit of probiotics could be their positive influence on cholesterol levels. Unbeknownst to many, the proper functioning of our digestive tract, and liver in particular, actually  has a big bearing on cholesterol levels in our body. When attempting to manage our cholesterol we often risk becoming transfixed on limiting dietary sources of cholesterol only when, in fact, supporting your digestion could be the secret.

Well, secret no more as research has been done to help back this theory up! It’s been found that a particular strain of bacteria, lactobacillus plantarum, may help to reduce cholesterol levels by up to 13% when compared to placebo in trials. Just think of the possibilities if this was paired with some positive diet and lifestyle changes!

7 – Supporting our mood, weight management and much more

Finally, and to sum up, for supporting our mood,4 healthy weight management,5  even our skin6 and, quite honestly, possibly a number of other factors of our health, opting for a more general probiotic may be the way to go, especially if other conventional approaches don’t seem to be doing the trick.

The research out there on  the benefits of probiotics is widespread and continually growing, constantly offering impressive new insights and going back to some ideas that ancient naturopaths such as Hippocrates  put across. Hippocrates, in particular, once claimed that ‘all disease began in the gut,’ and he may just have had a point!

Optibac for Everyday can be taken safely alongside other medications and is suitable for children over 1 year old, so what have you got to lose?