The Benefits of Probiotics
By Abigail Huntington, Nutritionist
Most likely you have heard about the benefits of probiotics, but did you know they could help you drop body fat, build muscle and boost the overall health and wellness of your whole family?
The body is full of live microorganisms that cannot be seen, felt or heard but the one place that is packed with them is the intestines. There are trillions of microorganisms living in your digestive tract some are good for your health while others may be destroying it. This is where probiotics comes to the rescue.
The word “probiotics” refers to the beneficial bacteria found living in the digestive tract that maintain and restore the normal balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in the body. Keeping this balance can have a dramatic impact on health including your physique, energy level and performance. The most obvious benefit for supplementing with probiotics is improving health in the gut. If the bad bacteria are allowed to flourish and grow, it can affect how well the nutrients in the food you are eating is absorbed. The intestines work at optimum levels if we have enough good bacteria.
Probiotics have tremendous benefits. They include:
- Help reduce abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence
- If antibiotics are required, supplementing with probiotics can help prevent the GI problems that often follow a dosage.
- Help reduce the effects of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and put it in remission
- Boost immune function
- Support key immune markers upon exposure to cold and flu viruses
- Reduce the duration of a cold and respiratory symptoms
- Reduce in the incidence of urinary tract infections
- Reduce body fat
- Increased T-cell production in response to adenovirus and influenza exposure
PROBIOTICS AND BODY FAT LOSS
Studies have sown that the gut microbial populations are different in lean and obese people. When obese people lose enough weight, the composition of gut microflora changes to resemble that of lean people. The gut microbes in obese people may allow them to extract more nutrients from food so more macronutrients and calories are absorbed and fewer are lost through feces than in leaner individuals.
Women who take probiotics during pregnancy gain less body fat including six months after giving birth.
Scientists found that when mice were given a high-fat diet and given probiotics for six weeks had lower blood glucose and insulin levels that those not getting the probiotics. The probiotic’s ability to reduce inflammation have been shown to prevent metabolic syndrome- a disease associated with cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and obesity.
PROBIOTICS AND PROTEIN ABSORPTION
Studies have shown that when probiotics are consumed with protein, more of the protein is absorbed enhancing muscle growth. The beneficial bacteria increases the body’s ability to absorb the amino acids from the protein consumed increasing muscle growth. Taking amino acids with a probiotic have been shown to increase the supplements benefit.
Probiotics have been shown to improve the response to mental and physical stress, acting much like an adaptogen by influencing neurotransmitters and hormones in the body that enhance mood and brain function. They have been shown to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and reduce stress, depression and anxiety-related behaviors. Probiotics have been shown to keep testosterone levels higher and cortisol levels lower, which can boost performance during workouts at the gym, improve muscle growth and increase body fat loss.
The general rule for supplementing with probiotics is to take enough that will provide 9-10 billion colony-forming units per day for two weeks and then cut back to 1-3 billion for maintenance. Always take them with meals. It is always a good idea to keep them refrigerated and of course, read the label for dosage and storage instructions.
About the Author:
Abigail Huntington is a nutritionist from Wilmington, North Carolina.