Probiotics are primarily known for aiding in digestion health. However, more and more scientists and physicians are realizing the impact these colonies of friendly bacteria can have on overall health. This may be why American adults are taking fewer multivitamins, opting instead for supplements like probiotics, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 1 If you need another reason to start incorporating more probiotics in your diet, read on to learn some of the astounding health benefits of probiotics.
1. Happier mood
When you’re feeling anxious, angry or depressed, you may think it’s all in your head. After all, your thoughts are what make you sad, right? Not exactly. A balanced gut microbiome is essential to feeling good, primarily because your brain and your gut are interconnected and are able to communicate. One study worked with patients who had major depressive disorder. 2 Half the group took probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium bifidum strains, while the other half took a placebo pill. After two months, the probiotic group scored considerably lower on the Beck Depression Inventory – a widely used test that measures depression levels. In another study, the Lactobacillus plantarum strain PS128 was found to increase dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that contribute to happy feelings.
2. Improved sleep
In one study, healthy elderly subjects who drank milk containing the probiotic strain Lactobacillus helveticus showed marked improvements in sleep quality, including the frequency in which they woke up during their slumber.3
3. Less crying
We’re talking about babies here! Parents of infants all over the world suffer from sleepless nights, thanks to their little ones crying through sunrise. In a surprising study, babies who were breastfed by mothers who consumed probiotics daily cried less than those whose mothers did not. 4 More specifically, by the final 28th day, probiotic babies cried 51 minutes per day while the other group of infants cried 145 minutes per day. Fascinating!
4. Boosted immunity
Some experts say that 70 percent of your immune system is actually in the gut. 5 The immune system is complex, comprising multiple organs working in harmony to ensure your body is able to defend itself from illnesses and infections. Although there are many ways to keep your immunity robust, such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating a healthy diet, probiotics may be able to help too – and there is quite a lot of research to support this. Here’s one example: In one study, patients who took probiotics for three months saw a reduced risk of getting the common cold. If they did catch a cold, the symptoms and duration were less severe. 6
5. Fewer cavities and better breath
Turns out, brushing and flossing just isn’t enough. Research has shown that there are particular strains of probiotics that can target the specific types of bacteria that cause tooth decay. 7 Other studies have also shown that probiotics can eliminate bad breath, which is also caused by bad bacteria. 8 This is great news, as most oral solutions only attempt to mask the issue, rather than combat the root cause. So, if you often deal with unpleasant oral odors or recurring tooth decay, try probiotics in lieu of your minty mouthwash.
6. Healthier vagina
The vagina is vulnerable to many conditions including yeast infections and bacterial issues which can lead to other conditions like urinary tract infections. These unpleasant ailments partly occur when your vaginal environment is not at a healthy state, allowing an overgrowth of bad bacteria to take over. According to the Harvard Medical School, probiotics may help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina, even halting growth of the harmful type. 9 In studies, a certain strain has been shown to balance the pH in the vagina, which helps sustain this essential balance. 10
7. Clearer complexion
Many people believe your skin mirrors how you really feel on the inside. If you’re healthy, your skin glows. If there is an imbalance inside, your skin break out or looks dull. Some experts suspect probiotics can help. In an interview with Live Science, Whitney Bowe, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, stated that probiotics may be able to reduce acne by reducing inflammation, noting that small studies have shown that probiotics have helped reduce the amount of blemishes on patients.11 There is even evidence that probiotics can help with eczema.12
8. Weight loss
If you’ve tried everything to lose weight and have reached a frustrating plateau, probiotic supplements may be the answer. New research suggests that consuming probiotics can positively impact your weight. In one study, scientists compared overweight individuals with healthy-weight people. They found that the overweight group lacked certain strains of healthy bacteria in their bodies. 13 In another study, women who took probiotics were able to lose weight, compared to those on a placebo. 14 Although experts haven’t reached a definite conclusion as to exactly why probiotics may help with weight, some believe that a healthy gut environment helps with metabolism and even hormone levels that can cause cravings for unhealthy food.
9. Reduced fatigue
It’s understandable if you feel sleepy and tired after pulling an all-nighter, but sometimes you can feel exhausted even after a good night’s rest. Research shows that promoting gut health through the use of probiotics may be able to increase energy. One study in particular found that a whopping 83 percent of subjects who committed to an anti-candida diet were able to improve their fatigue symptoms (candida is a yeast condition that can be neutralized with probiotic-rich foods).15
10. Fewer allergy symptoms
A study had people who suffered from allergies taking a single probiotic supplement every day for two months. When compared to the placebo group, the probiotic-takers exhibited fewer symptoms (like sniffling), and they had fewer markers of inflammation.16
Another study, demonstrating the link between allergies and gut health, discovered that the gut microbes in certain one-month-old infants predicted a “three-fold higher risk of developing allergic reactions by age two.”17
Power of Probiotics
As you can see, experts are continuing to demonstrate their growing interest in probiotics thanks to the immense potential they can have on the way you look and feel, inside and out. From the way you feel to how you smell and how quickly you recover from illnesses, the state of your gut can make all the difference. So far, the best solution seems to be found in probiotics.
For more helpful health tips, check out these articles:
1 Scott R. Americans Taking More Probiotics, Fewer Multivitamins -.Vital Updates.2016. Accessed January 19, 2017.
2 Staff U. The Best Probiotics for Mood: Enhancing the Gut-Brain Connection with Psychobiotics. University Health News. 2016. Accessed January 19, 2017.
3 Yamamura S e. The effect of Lactobacillus helveticus fermented milk on sleep and health perception in elderly subjects. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2009. Accessed January 19, 2017.
4 Savino F, Pelle E, Palumeri E, Oggero R, Miniero R. Lactobacillus reuteri (American Type Culture Collection Strain 55730) Versus Simethicone in the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Prospective Randomized Study. 2007.
5 Singh A, Hacini-Rachinel F, Gosoniu M et al. Immune-modulatory effect of probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 in individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen: an exploratory, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. 2013.
6 Berggren A, Lazou Ahren I, Larsson N, Onning G. Randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic Lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defense against viral infections. Eur J Nutr. 2011;50:203–210.
7. Lactobacillus reuteri in bovine milk fermented decreases the oral carriage of mutans streptococci. Sciencedirectcom. 2004. Accessed January 19, 2017.
8 Burton, J., Chilcott, C., Moore, C., Speiser, G., & Tagg, J. (2006). A preliminary study of the effect of probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 on oral malodour parameters. J Appl Microbiol Journal of Applied Microbiology, 100(4), 754-764.
9 Publications H. Health benefits of taking probiotics – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. 2015. Accessed January 19, 2017.
10 Cribby, S., Taylor, M., & Reid, G. (2008). Vaginal Microbiota and the Use of Probiotics. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases, 2008, 1-9.
10 Science L. Probiotics Hold Promise for 4 Skin Conditions. Live Science. 2014. Accessed January 19, 2017.
12. Rautiva S. Maternal probiotic supplementation during pregnancy and breast-feeding reduces the risk of eczema in the infant. Jacionlineorg. 2012. Accessed January 19, 2017.
13 Tilg, H., & Kaser, A. (2011, June 1). JCI – Gut microbiome, obesity, and metabolic dysfunction.
14 . Sanchez, M., Darimont, C., Drapeau, V., Emady-Azar, S., Lepage, M., Rezzonico, E., . . . Tremblay, A. (2013). Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. British Journal of Nutrition, 111(08), 1507-1519.
15 White E. The Effect of Nutritional Therapy for Yeast Infection (Candidiasis) in Cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 2005.
16 Singh A, Hacini-Rachinel F, Gosoniu M et al. Immune-modulatory effect of probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 in individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen: an exploratory, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. 2013.
17 Weiler N. Newborn Gut Microbiome Predicts Later Allergy and Asthma, Study Finds. UC San Francisco. 2016. Accessed January 19, 2017.