If you’ve heard of bacteria, it’s probably in a hygienic sense. Soaps and cleansers that get rid of all bacteria to keep your hands clean, that sort of thing. These are useful for stopping illness causing bacteria from moving from your hands to your food and into your guts, but that’s not all there is to bacteria. In fact, there’s more bacteria inside of you than there is in your entire house. The human body is a host to billions of different microorganisms. We call these “probiotics”.
Probiotics are bacteria that live inside your body in symbiosis - a naturally occurring partnership. They are part of the body, ever since we’re born. The probiotics from a mother’s milk enter a newborn’s body and populate it with the essential organisms that help break down and digest foods. You need probiotics, and not all foods treat them equally.
Fortunately, probiotics are things that occur naturally and can be consumed throughout our lives. We can replace and even adapt our internal microorganisms to new foods, new cycles and improve our bodily functions by eating and managing our probiotics.
A Healing Balance
Probiotics affect every part of your body in some way. When ingested they go to work finding the right bodily environment to populate in and go about rebalancing the ecosystem around them. Certain probiotics function best in the colon, which they will reach eventually, others hang out in the lower intestines, the guts, the stomach, even the throat.
When they reach these places they create more of themselves and cohabitate with other, native bacteria, or replace weakened, dead probiotics that don’t have long left. If your food desires or comfortability with eating certain things took an immediate turn at some point, it may be because your internal balance was upset by a lack of probiotics.
Once in the stomach, probiotics work on doing several things. As “good” bacteria, their duty is to break down things they find which can cause harm to the body. These things, bits of food or natural secretions from the surrounding organs, can also be eaten by bad bacteria, which causes the imbalance. Introducing probiotics will increase the competition these sickness causing bacteria have and helps starve them out entirely.
Probiotics work against antibiotic elements, the so called “bad bacteria” that consume the naturally occurring elements in the body which are needed to maintain daily, hourly and regulated functions.
Top to Bottom Health
For example, bile is produced in the gallbladder and sent into the stomach to aid in digestion. The leftover bile is then either absorbed by the stomach and turned into cholesterol or eaten by bacteria. Antibiotics will eat bile and multiply while excreting harmful substances that the body can’t deal with. This can cause stomach pain and other problems. Probiotics consume the leftover bile and convert it into something more neutral and harmless to the body, thus preventing discomfort or sickness.
One of the most common treatable symptoms with probiotics is diarrhea. No one likes it, and it’s not fun to talk about, but probiotics can help make it not happen. Studies have been done specifically on how much probiotics are able to reduce the risk or chance of it based on study participants who reported having frequent bouts of diarrhea. With a simple diet change, they saw a 42% drop in symptoms.
Another surprising figure is how well probiotics due in the suppression of mental health conditions. Much of the stress and anxiety we endure causes, or is caused by, our stomachs. Having a nervous stomachache is a problem that lies somewhere between the accumulation of mental stress and the physical environment of the stomach being altered by stress hormones and other stimulation. With a proper probiotic balance, they can produce a calmer stomach and help keep a calmer state of mind.
And between the rear and the head is the heart. Probiotics work to reduce LDL cholesterol by breaking down bile. This can also help to reduce high blood pressure. With less cholesterol clogging the arteries around the heart, blood pressure will naturally lower, though results from studies claim the reduction is modest at best, it’s still a safeguard against heart disease that comes from eating natural foods.
In Sickness and in Health
Probiotics work on your outsides as well as your insides - though with no need for application. Instead, eating probiotics has been found in studies to reduce the development of eczema and lessen allergic reactions to milk. Lactose intolerance is a trait that many people share where their body fails to break down the common acidic bonds found in milk products, lactose. Probiotics that specialize in lactose can be introduced to help curb the allergic reaction and normalize the digestive process.
This process also goes for more congenital diseases, things that aren’t caught but inherited like Crohn’s disease or IBS. Probiotics can help reduce the symptoms and even prevent more terrible diseases like necrotizing enterocolitis - which is fatal in infants. This is why it’s essential for newborns and very young children to get probiotics from formula or from specially made baby food. These foods are enriched with active probiotics that immediately live inside a child’s body and work with them to strengthen their developing organs.
Your immune system can also be boosted by probiotics. They act as a first defense against harmful gut bacteria, even before T-cells and antibodies get involved, and can completely remove hostile bacteria colonies on their own. This leaves the T-cells and other immune cells to fight more effectively where the probiotics can’t reach, strengthening other organs and areas of the body like the lungs.
And of course, everyone who talks about diets wants to talk about probiotics. They certainly do help supplement with weight loss, but not in a miracle way that replaces basic exercise with eating. Some probiotics can prevent dietary fat from being absorbed, and instead let it pass through as waste.
Probiotics help us live our best lives by living inside of us. They’re not just a hip food fad, they are living things and their life is all about making your life better.