Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements.
More and more studies show that the balance or imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system is linked to overall health and disease.
Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to a wide range of health benefits.
These include benefits for weight loss, digestive health, immune function and more.
This is an overview of the key health benefits linked to probiotics.
1. Probiotics Help Balance The Friendly Bacteria in Your Digestive System
Probiotics include "good" bacteria. These are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed.
These benefits are thought to result from the ability of probiotics to restore the natural balance of gut bacteria.
An imbalance means there are too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. It can happen due to illness, medication such as antibiotics, poor diet and more.
Consequences can include digestive issues, allergies, mental health problems, obesity and more.
Probiotics are usually found in fermented foods or taken as supplements. What's more, they appear to be safe for most people.
Probiotics are live microorganisms. When taken in sufficient amounts, they can help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria. As a result, health benefits may follow.
2. Probiotics Can Help Prevent and Treat Diarrhea
Probiotics are widely known for their ability to prevent diarrhea or reduce its severity.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of taking antibiotics. It occurs because antibiotics can negatively affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.
Several studies suggest probiotic use is associated with a reduced risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
In one study, researchers found that taking probiotics reduced antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 42%.
Probiotics can also help with other forms of diarrhea not associated with antibiotics.
A large review of 35 studies found certain strains of probiotics can reduce the duration of infectious diarrhea by an average of 25 hours.
Probiotics reduced the risk of travelers' diarrhea by 8%. They also lowered the risk of diarrhea from other causes by 57% in children and 26% in adults.
Effectiveness varies, depending on the type and dose of the probiotic taken.
Strains such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii are most commonly associated with a reduced risk of diarrhea.
Probiotics can reduce the risk and severity of diarrhea from a number of different causes.
3. Probiotic Supplements Improve Some Mental Health Conditions
An increasing number of studies link gut health to mood and mental health.
Both animal and human studies find that probiotic supplements can improve some mental health disorders.
A review of 15 human studies found supplementing with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillusstrains for 1–2 months can improve anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and memory.
One study followed 70 chemical workers for 6 weeks. Those who consumed 100 grams of probiotic yogurt per day or took a daily probiotic capsule experienced benefits for general health, depression, anxiety and stress.
Benefits were also seen in a study of 40 patients with depression.
Taking probiotic supplements for 8 weeks decreased depression levels and reduced levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and hormones such as insulin, compared to people who did not take a probiotic.
Research shows taking probiotics may help improve symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, stress and memory, among others.
4. Certain Probiotic Strains Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy
Probiotics may help keep your heart healthy by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol and blood pressure.
Certain lactic acid-producing bacteria may reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in the gut.
Bile, a naturally occurring fluid mostly made of cholesterol, helps digestion.
By breaking down bile, probiotics can prevent it from being reabsorbed in the gut, where it can enter the blood as cholesterol.
A review of 5 studies found that eating a probiotic yogurt for 2–8 weeks reduced total cholesterol by 4% and LDL cholesterol by 5%.
Another study conducted over 6 months found no changes in total or LDL cholesterol. However, the researchers did find a small increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol..
Consuming probiotics may also lower blood pressure. A review of 9 studies found that probiotic supplements reduce blood pressure, but only modestly.
In order to experience any benefits related to blood pressure, supplementation had to exceed 8 weeks and 10 million colony-forming units (CFUs) daily.
Probiotics may help protect the heart by reducing "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and modestly lowering blood pressure.
5. Probiotics May Reduce the Severity of Certain Allergies and Eczema
Certain probiotic strains may reduce the severity of eczema in children and infants.
One study found eczema symptoms improved for infants fed probiotic-supplemented milk, compared to infants fed milk without probiotics.
Another study followed children of women who took probiotics during pregnancy. Those children had an 83% lower risk of developing eczema in the first two years of life.
However, the link between probiotics and reduced eczema severity is still weak and more research needs to be done.
Some probiotics may also reduce inflammatory responses in people with milk or dairy allergies. However, the evidence is weak and further studies are needed.
Probiotics may reduce the risk and severity of certain allergies, such as eczema in infants. However, more research is needed.
6. Probiotics Can Help Reduce Symptoms of Certain Digestive Disorders
Over one million people in the US suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Certain types of probiotics from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have improved symptoms in people with mild ulcerative colitis.
Surprisingly, one study found that supplementing with the probiotic E. coli Nissle was just as effective as drugs in maintaining remission in people with ulcerative colitis.
However, probiotics appear to have little effect on symptoms of Crohn's disease.
Nevertheless, probiotics may have benefits for other bowel disorders. Early research suggests they may help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
They have also been shown to reduce the risk of severe necrotizing enterocolitis by 50%. This is a fatal bowel condition that occurs in premature infants /
Probiotics may help reduce the symptoms of bowel disorders like ulcerative colitis, IBS and necrotizing enterocolitis.
7. Probiotics May Help Boost Your Immune System
Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria.
Also, some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body. They may also boost immune cells like the IgA-producing cells, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells.
A large review found that taking probiotics reduced the likelihood and duration of respiratory infections. However, the quality of the evidence was low.
Another study including over 570 children found that taking Lactobacillus GG reduced the frequency and severity of respiratory infections by 17% .
The probiotic Lactobacillus crispatus has also been shown to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women by 50%.
Probiotics may help boost your immune system and protect against infections.
8. Probiotics May Help You Lose Weight and Belly FatProbiotics may help with weight loss through a number of different mechanisms.
For example, some probiotics prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine.
The fat is then excreted through feces rather than stored in the body.
Probiotics may also help you feel fuller for longer, burn more calories and store less fat. This is partly caused by increasing levels of certain hormones, such as GLP-1.
They may also help with weight loss directly. In one study, dieting women who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus for 3 months lost 50% more weight than women who didn't take a probiotic.
Another study of 210 people found that taking even low doses of Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks resulted in an 8.5% reduction of belly fat.
However, it's important to be aware that not all probiotics aid in weight loss.
Surprisingly, some studies found certain probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, can even lead to weight gain.
More studies are needed to clarify the link between probiotics and weight.
Certain probiotics may help you lose weight and belly fat. However, other strains have been linked to weight gain.
Click HERE to see what Probiotic I use.
There are so many different forms of crash diets out there, from liquid fasts to drastically cutting back on the calories that you consume. While it is possible to lose weight while on a crash diet, they come with smany negative effects, causing problems not only within your body, but also on your skin.
Sagging SkinCrash diets work by giving the body a bit of a shock with the lack of food, sending it into starvation mode. Often, results can be seen in just a few days, but, while the numbers may be dropping on the scale, it is not fat that you are losing.
Instead, crash diets signal to your body to store its fat reserves, and to burn lean tissue to make up for this, as lean tissue also burns much more quickly and effectively. This also causes a loss of lean body mass and water, which is why such a significant result is often experienced so early on in the process.
This loss of muscle, as well as the tissues around them, happens so quickly that your skin does not have enough time to adjust to the new shape of the structure beneath it.
The results of this are areas of sagging and loose skin.
This is exacerbated even more if you end up yo-yo dieting. This is when you follow a crash diet and quickly lose weight, but then put the weight back on just as quickly. In order to deal with this, another crash diet is followed, and the cycle just repeats itself.
With your skin having to constantly stretch and tighten over short periods of time, this causes a loss of skin elasticity, as well as stretch marks.
When you are on a crash diet, you will be severely limiting the number of calories that you consume on a daily basis, with some diets requiring you to eat no more than 700 calories per day. Not only that, but whole food groups are often completely removed from the diet for a set period of time.
As you can imagine, this means that your body will not be acquiring all of the nutrients that it needs each day. If you are working with a dietician, this may not be such an issue, as you will be taught which other foods, or supplements, you need to be consuming in order to balance out your nutritional requirements.
However, for everyone who has decided to follow a crash diet on their own, nutritional deficiencies are extremely common.
What does this mean for your skin?
Well, being your body’s largest organ, your skin most definitely needs certain nutrients to survive, and even more to thrive. Many of the vitamins and minerals that your skin needs are not actually produced by the body, meaning that they need to be coming from your diet.
Here are some of the symptoms that you will experience on your skin from being deficient in certain nutrients:
One of the side effects that comes from severely restricting your calorie intake is that you end up having so much less energy.
Those who are on a crash diet tend to exercise far less, as food is the main energy source for your body. When you start depriving it of food, your body begins to conserve its energy. This makes even the simplest of tasks seem like a huge challenge, so you can only imagine how off-putting the idea of working out while on a crash diet would be!
Wondering how this affects your skin?
Well, exercise is actually one of the best things that you can do for your skin!
To begin with, exercise increases your blood circulation, which boosts the amount of blood, oxygen, and therefore nutrients, that enter into your skin cells. This leads to a much healthier-looking complexion, thanks to this oxygenated blood.
Physical activity also helps with acne, because exercise stimulates the body’s natural detoxification process, pulling out the toxins from your skin. Of course, you do need to ensure that you shower after exercising, in order to wash these toxins away and stop them from settling back into your pores.
As you likely already know, stress, and the hormone cortisol that comes with it, is extremely damaging to your skin. Exercise is something that not only reduces stressful feelings, but also reduces the amount of cortisol flowing through your blood, helping to relax you and soothe your skin.
With less energy, and therefore less exercise, your skin would not be experiencing any of these benefits, and you may even find yourself with a dull, sallow complexion, with frequent acne breakouts.
Exercise is also important when following a diet in order to make sure that your body is burning fat, rather than muscle mass. Without exercise, the sagging skin side effect, also becomes even more exacerbated.
Higher Stress Levels
Crash diets can be extremely difficult to follow, which is hardly surprising considering that they are not a natural way for your body to survive.
The challenges that you will face while following a crash diet will no doubt end up affecting you on a psychological level.
Constantly seeing foods that you cannot eat, but watching others eat them, will soon have you feeling miserable, while the lack of nutrients will leave you easily irritable and tired.
All of this causes higher stress levels, resulting in the hormone cortisol running through the body, which affects the skin in a few different ways:
Not only does the feeling of hunger keep you awake, but any sort of change in the quality of your diet can lead to sleepless nights.
In many ways…
For example, the new foods that you will be eating, as well as all the foods that you will not be eating, will likely cause digestive discomforts that could keep you up at night. You may also end up turning to caffeinated beverages more throughout the day, to compensate for your lack of energy, and all of this caffeine will make it much harder for you to fall asleep at night.
This lack of quality sleep affects your skin in a number of ways:
However, as soon as you feed your body at your next meal, your brain kicks into action, sending signals to the rest of your body to eat as much food as possible while it is available. In a moment of weakness, this can easily lead to a binge eating session, causing you to fall off of your diet plan.
When it comes to your skin, binge eating can cause many of the problems mentioned above, from an increase in stress to weight fluctuations that lead to loose, sagging skin.
Are There Any Benefits That a Crash Diet Can Bring to the Skin?In a way, there is one big benefit that a crash diet can bring to the skin…
Many crash diets require you to stop eating processed foods, and replace these with more fruits and vegetables. This is something that many people tend not to eat enough of with the modern day diet, so increasing your intake of fresh foods can definitely be beneficial.
However, this is something that you do not need a crash diet for, as there are much healthier ways to lose weight while improving the health of your body and skin at the same time. Weight loss actually works so much better when it is done at a gradual pace, and this also makes it much easier to sustain, meaning that you will not go bouncing back to your original weight in a few weeks.
Wondering how to go about losing weight in a safe and sustainable way?
The key here is the combination of a balanced diet and moderate regular exercise.
A safe way to diet is…
Slowly reducing the amount of calories you are consuming, ensuring that you do not cut out whole food groups. By slowly, rather than quickly, reducing calorie intake, you will be encouraging your body to burn stored fat, rather than lean muscle.
Simple adjustments in your diet can also help, such as swapping “white” versions of carbohydrates for whole grain ones. These contain less sugar and more nutrients, and will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
As mentioned above, fresh foods are also important when it comes to dieting. You should try to aim for around 80% of your plate to be made up of fresh produce, making use of a rainbow of colors, as each color relates to a different range of nutrients.
When it comes to exercise…
This all depends on how quickly you are looking for results.
For a slow and modest weight loss goal, you should be doing 150 to 250 minutes of moderate intensity exercises each week. For a more significant weight loss, aim for over 250 minutes a week, although, if you are combining this with an improvement in your diet, 250 minutes should still be enough.
Wondering what a moderate intensity exercise is?
This differs between individuals, and depends on your own fitness levels. But, basically, you should be breathing deeply, but not gasping for breath, with your body feeling as though it is working hard, but not so hard that it wants to give up.
Of course, high-intensity workouts are also fantastic for weight loss, and are the most efficient way to lose weight. However, you need to already be healthy and active before trying high-intensity exercises, otherwise you risk causing damage to your body, and may require quite a few days to recover from each session.
While crash diets may seem tempting, they are definitely not a healthy way to lose weight. Not only do they cause problems with your skin, but they also negatively affect the rest of your body. Rather than losing weight in this way, try to opt for a slower and more sustainable weight loss plan too, as this will also encourage you to make healthy improvements in other aspects of your life as well.