What Are Probiotics Good For?

It may seem hard to wrap your mind around these numbers, I know it was for me, but there are far more bacterial cells in the human body than human cells. Initially, the ratio was thought to be 10 to 1, but now is estimated more like 1.3 to 1. When you consider that blood makes up 84% of the human cells and that it doesn’t take into account fungi, viruses and archaea, which boosts that ratio back up to 10 to 1, it becomes rather a staggering statistic. While the average person has approximately 39 trillion bacteria, that number isn’t static, neither is the number of human cells. Bacteria plays an important role in the health of each individual. Probiotics aid in ensuring there’s a healthy balance of good bacteria.

Bacteria helps us live healthier.

Everywhere in your body, you have bacteria. It’s not only on your skin, but in your lungs, nose and digestive tract. Unlike bad bacteria that can make you sick, good bacteria acts as the front line soldiers to fight off pathogens that can cause infection. They not only help our immune system, they also aid with digestion. They help the body to absorb fatty acids and break down carbs and toxins. They protect the intestines and ensure that damage is repaired. People have their own personalized mix of bacteria the day they’re born, but many things can change that.

Things that can affect your bacterial level and mix.

Unfortunately, when you take antibiotics, it not only kills off the harmful bacteria, it also kills the good ones. Those may be ones used in digestion or to fight off harmful bacteria or fungi. Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs can damage the balance of the gut flora, killing off your good bacteria. These include everything from heartburn pills, both prescribed and over-the-counter, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which includes ibuprophen and aspirin also beat on the good bacteria.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host,” according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. Probiotics can come from either supplements or food. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, yogurt and kefir are probiotics. The most common bacteria with probiotic benefits are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. While probiotics may be good, it doesn’t mean everyone should have the same balance of bacteria. Different types of bacteria help with different conditions.

  • Not all probiotics are bacteria. There is a type of yeast that acts as a probiotic.
  • Fluoridated water, as well as chlorinated water have an effect on healthy bacterial levels.
  • Processed foods, sugar, fructose and refined foods—which includes pasteurized milk, GMO foods, pesticides, and even stress can affect bacterial levels and mix. Sugar also boosts the growth of yeast (fungus) that can overtake healthy bacteria.
  • Some studies show that probiotics can actually help make weight loss easier.

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