Why Are Probiotics So Important? What's Their Role?

Probiotics help to improve gut health and metabolism. They can also reduce the risk of many metabolism-related problems such as obesity and diabetes.
Why Are Probiotics So Important? What's Their Role?

Last update: 06 January, 2021

Today, the importance of having healthy gut flora is well known. For instance, a healthy gut influences the way your body processes nutrients and affects your mental health. The good news is that there are many strategies available to you so you can make sure your gut is working properly. With that aim, it’s good to get to know the important role that probiotics play in the digestive system.

Before getting started, let’s look at some basics of gut flora. You probably know that gut flora is made up of a high number of different kinds of bacteria. Some are beneficial (good bacteria) and other kinds, not so much. The right balance must exist between them. Of course, there are some things you can do to make sure these bacteria are in the right proportions.

 What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria, of the good kind. They dwell in selected areas of your intestine, which is beneficial for you. Taking probiotic supplements can help you in many ways. For instance, it can reduce the risk of diarrhea. This is what a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology confirms.

Here’s another benefit. Probiotics can also have a positive effect on food digestion and reduce the symptoms of some food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance.

Further, a recent scientific article has demonstrated that taking probiotic supplements may be able to help diabetes sufferers. Research shows that higher levels of these bacteria can help to reverse the body’s resistance to insulin. This could be an important step forward in managing diabetes.

Not all probiotic supplements are the same

Many kinds of yogurt contain high levels of probiotics.

When it comes to choosing probiotics, it’s necessary to know certain details that influence both their quality and effectiveness. Firstly, you should make sure the capsules include enough bacteria. Look for a number such as 10 (10 billion CFU, or colony-forming units) on the bottle. This means that you’ll be getting enough bacteria in each capsule to do you good.

Currently, many of the probiotic supplements on the market have the disadvantage of containing too many different bacteria strains. Ideally, the product should only contain one or two strains of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, which are different kinds of good bacteria. The bottle should also have a certification on the benefits of those bacteria strains.

Combine probiotics with fiber

Over the last few years, researchers have discovered something interesting. The positive effects of probiotics are increased when they’re taken together with certain types of fiber. Normally, soluble fiber breaks down and ferments in the gut. This process produces various substances that the gut bacteria feed on. This, in turn, makes the bacteria healthier.

There are already products for sale that contain both probiotics and fiber. Some kinds of fiber are prebiotics, which means they make up the food that the good bacteria needs to feed on in the gut. This combination is known as symbiotic and is especially beneficial for the treatment of inflammatory gut diseases.

The important role of probiotics in the future

Scientists are continually investigating the role probiotics can play and the positive effects that supplements can have. These effects include improving the health of your gut’s microbiota and how this influences the way your whole body works. Currently, researchers are studying how these bacteria can affect obesity treatments, and they’re getting promising results.

Probiotic supplements in capsule form.

Scientists are identifying different bacteria strains, each one with a specific function and application. In the next few years, it’s likely that this field of study will keep developing and that taking probiotics regularly will be recommended for all.

Help from good bacteria

Probiotics are one of the most revolutionary discoveries in the nutritional field in the last few years. These bacteria have made inflammatory gut diseases easier to manage. Some of these disorders didn’t even seem to have a solution previously, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

At the same time, good bacteria seem to be able to reduce problems associated with diabetes, since they improve the way your body digests nutrients. They can even reverse some intolerance problems, such as lactose intolerance. Many of these problems are caused by imbalances in the gut.

For these reasons, the potential applications for probiotics are immense. It’s just necessary to select the right strain for each case. Of course, consulting with a nutritional specialist is always a good idea.

Don’t hesitate to see a nutritionist if you have digestive problems. They can also help you if you’d like to try probiotic supplements to help you manage a digestive disorder.

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  • Guarino A., Guandalini S., Vecchio A., Probiotics for prevention and treatment of diarrhea. J Clin Gastroenterol, 2015.
  • Tonucci LB., Dos Santos KM., Ferreira CL., Ribeiro SM., et al., Gut microbiota and probiotics: focus on diabetes mellitus. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2017. 57 (11): 2296-2309.