Chances are you know about probiotics… or at least have heard of them. But just in case you haven’t; probiotics are basically ‘good’ bacteria that you can ingest to help restore balance to your personal microbiome – which is made up of the trillions of bacteria that already live in our bodies.
Probiotics have profound beneficial effects when it comes to gastrointestinal health. These include;
– the decrease of unwelcome gastro-intestinal microorganisms
– the reduction of gastro-intestinal discomfort
– the improvement of bowel regularity
– the reduction of flatulence and bloating
– the maintaining of healthy intestinal flora during/after antibiotic treatment
– the proper assimilation and absorption of nutrients
However, did you know that the benefits of probiotics go way beyond gut health?!
Here are 5 uncommon uses for these beneficial bacteria that may surprise you:
Yes, treating a mental disorder with probiotics may seem ridiculous however, the relationship between the health of the brain and the health of the gut are in fact inextricably linked. It’s called the ‘gut-brain axis.’
How it works is, if there is any imbalance in intestinal flora, inflammation in the gut may result, causing inflammatory cytokines to be released into the blood. These cytokines can then cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation in the brain, which can create symptoms of depression. Probiotics help reduce this gut inflammation which reduces the brain inflammation which then improves the symptoms of depression.
Supplementing with probiotics therefore can make a huge difference in the mental health of those with gut dysbiosis.
2. Skin Problems
The skin is also closely connected to the gut through the ‘gut-skin axis.’ Just as inflammation in the gut can cause inflammation in the brain, it can also lead to inflammation in the skin. This inflammation can manifest as acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, or other skin conditions. Supplementing with probiotics therefore also improves skin disorders through a similar anti-inflammatory mechanism.
Probiotics can also be used topically to fight against undesirable strains of bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes) (strongly linked to acne) as well as to restore friendly populations of bacteria that may have been disturbed through harsh soaps and other environmental toxins.
In Chinese medicine, sinus issues are always related to the gut. Now modern research indicates that probiotics could be very effective in reducing congestion and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. To be more specific, probiotics help;
– suppress over-active immune responses in allergic patients
– reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines
– alleviate allergic symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion and eye irritations
– appropriately enhance immune response to infections
4. Wound Care
Did you know that probiotics are an incredibly useful addition to your family first aid kit!? Adding a powdered probiotic preparation to wounds may help reduce the risk of external infection and ward off pathogenic bacteria as well as aid in reducing inflammation and enhancing the healing process.
Probiotics may also play a major role in preventing cancer (even those outside of the gastrointestinal tract) by several different mechanisms such as;
- binding to potential carcinogens, promoting their excretion.
- suppressing growth of bacteria that convert harmless pro-carcinogen molecules into carcinogens.
- stimulating specific liver enzymes that detoxify carcinogens
Probiotics also modulate your immune system, an effect that has impact not only on cancer but also on your overall health status.
Our understanding of how probiotics work is constantly evolving, and this is broadening the scope of health issues that probiotics can help treat. It is so important to keep your microbiome as healthy as possible by eating a diet rich in pre-biotic and fermented foods. You may even want to consider taking a high quality probiotic supplement on a daily basis!
Healthy gut, healthy life.