You must have seen the adverts where you eat a small container of yoghurt and the ‘friendly bacteria’ will improve your health?
Well, the reason these yoghurts are so beneficial is that they contain probiotics, but what are probiotics and what benefits do they provide?
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms found within your gut. Sometimes they are called ‘friendly bacteria’ or ‘good bacteria’ as they offer many health benefits.
The word probiotics comes from two Greek words; pro which means ‘promoting’ and biotic that means ‘life’.
There is growing evidence to suggest that consuming certain foods and supplements that can these probiotics can help to improve your immune system that in turn can help treat and prevent numerous health conditions.
Our digestive system contains both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, and to maintain good health there needs to be a balance of the two.
Unfortunately there are many aspects of our lives that can upset this balance such as medications, diet and disease.
If there is too little of this good bacteria then it will no longer be able to filter out all the bad things that can affect your digestion; such as bacteria, toxins, chemicals and other waste products.
When this occurs your health will suffer with your weight just one aspect of your life affected.
How can probiotics help with weight loss?
By improving your digestive health you will no longer have all those toxins built up. Your digestive health will improve and you will no longer be storing that unwanted waste in your gut.
One study published by the British Journal of Nutrition has shown how a team of Japanese researchers studied the effects of probiotics on a group of 210 overweight people.
During the study this group were split into three with all groups consuming 7 ounces of fermented milk.
Two of the groups had their milk spiked with varying amounts of probiotics.
After 12 weeks those who consumed the probiotic lost between 8-9% of their visceral fat (fat that builds up around your organs), with another 1-3% loss of belly fat.
This is not the only proof of the weight loss benefits of probiotics. During one of Dr Oz’s shows two female guests revealed how they had each lost over 30 pounds just by adding probiotics to their diets.
Dr Oz has even gone as far as saying that probiotics is the weight loss trend of 2013.
Other health benefits of probiotics
Research into the health benefits of probiotics are still in their infancy, however there have been promising studies including one performed at Yale University who concluded that probiotics were effective at treating:
- Childhood diarrhoea
- Ulcerative colitis
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
There is also research to suggest that it can help to prevent:
- Ear infections
- Strep throat
Are there any probiotics risks?
Although taking probiotics is safe with very few side effects there are unfortunately some risks, especially amongst those with weakened immune systems.
One particular study has shown that taking a probiotic while suffering from pancreatitis will increase the risk of death.
Do I need to take any probiotics?
If you suffer from body odour, bloating, flatulence or fungal infections then the bad bacteria in your gut are likely to be in too high a number.
There are other common issues linked to bad bacteria including:
- Bad breath
- Colds and flu
How to choose a suitable probiotic?
There are many different types of probiotic, from foods such as yoghurts to supplements.
It really does not matter how you take them as long as there are enough of these organisms to grow.
Again experts will argue that the effective dose ranges from as little as 50 million to 1 trillion cells per dose.
Your best bet is to try one and see what effects it will have on your body. I am sure you won’t regret it.
Just make sure to choose a product from a well known company, especially the ones that are willing to show how many organisms are present in each dose.
Have you used any probiotics, how did you find it?