main health benefits of probiotics

What are Probiotics – How to Improve your Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota dysbiosis is surprinsingly common among us. Probiotics can help you improve the composition of your gut microbiota. This will prevent gut dysbiosis and all the health consequences associated with it.

In this post we talk about probiotics and gut microbiota.

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What’s the Gut Microbiota?

The gut microbiota, also known as gut microbiome, is the community of microorganisms inhabiting your digestive tract (source).

These microorganisms have established, through evolution, a symbiotic relationship with the host (humans). This is, both the host (human), and parasite (microorganism), benefit from each other (study)

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With more bacterial cells than human cells (source), the gut microbiota has a big word on the status of your metabolism and health

How is the Gut Microbiota Developed?

Factors Modulating Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota is unique to each of us. The composition and richness of the gut microbiota is part of your identity (study).

From early stages of life, you are continuously developing and shaping the gut microbiota.

Since the very first moment we are born, microorganisms enter our gut and start creating their environment (study).

Mode of delivery, breast feeding, interactions with the environment, diet, physical exercise,... all can affect the composition of our gut microbiota (study)

Health Benefits of the Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota plays a big role in your health and disease. Considered by many as an "essential organ", the gut microbiota is key for your survival and evolution.

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Your gut microbiota can strengthen your intestinal barrier (study). It will prevent pathogens entering in your system.

Moreover, the gut microbiota is able to modulate our inmune system by various mechanisms (study).

The most important benefit of gut microbiota in your health is its metabolic function.

Microorganisms are able to metabolize non-digestible fibres and other compounds to convert them in compounds you can use in your metabolism (study)

gut microbiota in health and disease

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microbial supplements which beneficially affect the host by improving microbial balance (source)

Probiotics are supplements containing living benefitial microorganisms (source).

The market of probiotics has grown rapidly in the past years (source). The more we know about the gut microbiota, the more interested we are on improving it. And probiotics can help us on that (study)

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Most probiotics are bacteria, but there are also some yeast and funghi strains available.

The most common probiotics bacteria are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (study). The interactions of these strains with the gut microbiome are very well understood.

The health of your gut microbiota largely depends on the amount of these two microbial families (study).

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But probiotics don't only cover supplements. Some foods are also considered probiotics. Fermented foods contain living microorganisms (study).

These microorganisms are reponsible of the fermentation, and are kept alive in the food matrix. Fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, or tempeh.

What Microorganisms are Considered Probiotics?

Not all microorganisms can be used as probiotics. The microorganism needs to survive the journey to the intestine.

Once in the intestine, it needs to adhere to the intestinal barrier, and kill the pathogens. If the biological properties allow it to do that, it's welcome into the elite of probiotics 🙂

Below there's a table with the main probiotic strains used nowadays.

most popular probiotic microorganisms

Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics, either coming from fermented foods or supplements, bring benefits both to your and your gut microbiota's health.

In the next 5min, we'll cover the main benefits of taking probiotics. 

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Probiotics Help Balance the Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota is affected by a lot of factors. Diet, lifestyle, stress, physical activity,... (read more).

Sudden changes in your life can disturb your gut microbiota, also called gut dysbiosis.

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Probiotics, however, can help you restore the composition of your gut microbiota (study).

They introduce benefitial functions to the gut microbiota. That can help preventing diseases related to gut dysbiosis, or simply improve the health of your gut microbiota.

Probiotics Modulate your Intestinal Inmune System

Gut dysbiosis leads to chronic inflammation state (study). If prolonged on time, it can derive on more serious diseases, such as Chron's disease, or IBD (study)

Introducing probiotic microorganisms can help you prevent that and modulate the intestinal inmune system.

Benefitial bacteria produce metabolites such as SCFAs, or vitamins. These compounds interact with the inmune system, inhibiting the inflammatory response (study)

probiotics modulate intestinal inmune system

Probiotics May Help You Lose Weight

Probiotics can help you lose weight through different mechanisms (study).

Although not all probiotics aim to lose weight, there are some microorganisms with special mechanisms by which it could favour weight loss.

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Some probiotics prevent the absorption of dietary fats in the intestine. These fats will be excreted, instead of stored in our organism (study).

Studies done in humans show how taking probiotics could lead to higher weight loss when compared to the group that didn't take probiotics (study)

Compounds produced by probiotics could regulate the appetite, lower the size of adipocytes, or increase fat oxidation (study).

probiotics help lose weight

Probiotics Improve your Mental Health

The gut-brain axis plays a central role in your mood and mental health (study).

The gut microbiota modulates the gut's health. Thus, the gut microbiota has a word to say in your mental health as well (study).

Probiotics can restore your gut microbiota, and have a potential role in the treatment and prevention of anxiety and depression (study).

The gut microbiota is also responsible of producing neurochemicals and neurotransmitters (study).

As probiotics can restore your gut microbiota, they can indirectly increase the production of these compounds.

Conclusion

The gut microbiota is a central piece in your health. It provides inmunity, helps your metabolism, and it's essential for your survival.

Gut dysbiosis is prevalent nowadays. Probiotics, which are living microorganisms, improve your gut microbiota.

In this post, we reviewed the main health benefits of probiotics.

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