While the terms “bacteria” and “germs” tend to have a negative connotation, the reality is that the human microbiome the beneficial bacteria, viruses, and yeast strains living in and on the human body is thought to be responsible for keeping us healthy. Researchers today believe that promoting beneficial organisms in the digestive tract confers multiple benefits, including helping to manage the pathogenic bacteria that enter our bodies through food, water, and air.
Probiotics are a worldwide phenomenon. In 2022, the global probiotics market was USD 68.56 billion. While many people are including probiotics in their diets today, doctors and scientists worldwide are still investigating the positive effects these minuscule living creatures have on human health. Early indications are that there are many.
The Marvel of Probiotics
Studies have shown a correlation between probiotic ingestion and positive effects on the body. Here are a few:
- Support for the immune system
- Help break down toxic food compounds and medications
- Create specific vitamins and amino acids
- Break down fiber in the intestines
- Manage pathogenic organisms
What Foods Contain Probiotics?
There are several ways to add probiotics to your diet. Traditionally fermented foods and beverages contain active, friendly bacterial strains. If you enjoy the taste of cultured foods, this is an excellent way to add healthy bacteria to your diet.
- Cultured buttermilk
In addition, food manufacturers have recently begun adding probiotics to various foods such as cereal and milk.
Supplementation is also an option. One advantage of taking a supplement is you have visibility toknowing the strains of microorganisms you’re putting in your body. This information is usually unavailable when you eat cultured foods and those with added probiotics.
Probiotic providers typically list the bacterial strains and the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) the supplement contains. Quality Probiotic supplements such as Dr. Ohhira’s provide an assortment of probiotic strains because studies have shown that supplements with multiple strains are more effective than those with single strains.
Decades of Positive Results
The concept of probiotics has been around for more than a century. Forward-thinking scientists believed that certain types of bacteria could help with longevity. Fast-forward many years and much research later, and as of 2023, there were over 1,500 published studies on probiotics using diverse bacterial strains and focusing on various issues. While researchers haven’t fully pinpointed which strains make the most difference for particular concerns, the results indicate measurable benefits.
Bridging Physical and Mental Well-Being
Scientists have identified a two-way communication system between the gut and the brain that involves a complicated mesh of nerves and chemicals. They call this communication system the gut-brain axis. You’ve likely experienced it. Think of the butterflies you get in your stomach before a major presentation. Those with a disrupted gut microbiome often report symptoms like anxiety.
As probiotics begin to colonize and produce their metabolites, they start addressing the dysbiosis in the intestines, helping to bring down inflammation, heal leaky gut, and improve immunity.
Multiple studies have found a connection between probiotic use and improvement in mental health symptoms. While scientists see a link, most studies conclude with a call for more research to identify which strains of bacteria are helpful for particular concerns.
Innovations Steering the Probiotics Wave
The focus on probiotics in recent years has brought a wave of new approaches to health as it relates to the human microbiome.
Personalized Probiotic Therapies
Each of us has a unique microbiome with its helpful and unhelpful microorganisms. It makes sense that an individualized approach to supporting the microbiome would be more effective than a scatter-shot approach toward supporting overall health.
Personalized probiotic therapies are more precise and effective; they consider your needs and preferences, improve intestinal health and well-being, and optimize nutrition from probiotic metabolites because of the bacterial specificity. Probiotic manufacturers are beginning to respond to this idea with innovative industry collaborations.
Probiotics in Skincare
We tend to think of probiotics affecting only the intestinal tract, but did you know that our microbiome extends to our skin? This realization is creating an entirely new approach to skincare. As a culture, we have attempted to remove bacteria from our environment. We use antibiotics internally and topically in products such as antibacterial soaps.
When we eradicate the bacteria on our skin, we remove an essential layer of protection for our bodies and skin health. Discontinuing topical antibacterial agents as much as possible, using products that do not disrupt the body’s natural probiotic shield, and improving gut health go a long way toward improving skin health.
Technology and Probiotics
Scientists are still trying to understand exactly how probiotics work in the body and how they can better influence the microbiome and, thus, our health. Researchers are using a new set of technological tools to investigate. One such tool is genetic investigation and modification of strains. Another is testing using computer simulations and more traditional animal and test-tube experiments.
Apps are available to track various health issues, and several are available that can help with gut health. There are apps to track fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) that can help reduce symptoms in those who suffer from digestive issues. You can also download digestive symptom and daily elimination trackers.
Safety and Efficacy: Setting the Record Straight
The medical community considers probiotics generally safe for most people to use. Often, they can help alleviate symptoms more gently than their pharmaceutical counterparts. For instance, studies have found that probiotics may help with various digestive concerns, especially if caused by antibiotic use.
Consulting your medical practitioner before taking a supplement is always a good idea. If you are immunocompromised or have had a recent surgery or lengthy hospital stay, talking with your doctor before taking probiotics is essential.
The Horizon of Probiotic Research
Researchers continue to investigate probiotics’ role in various conditions that have shown promise in previous studies. While research hasn’t been in-depth enough to associate a particular probiotic with healing one specific concern, studies have indicated that probiotics could be helpful in dental health, intestinal health, reducing inflammation, helping with obesity, and improving mental health.
Another area of study is aging and cognitive decline. A recent study saw participants increase cognitive scores after taking a probiotic for three months. In studies of “gerobiotics”, researchers have found promising results of probiotics positively influencing the aging process.
Empowering Consumers: Making Probiotics Part of Daily Life
Now that you understand the importance of microbiome health, you can take steps daily to improve your gut health. Adding foods to your diet that are naturally probiotic-rich is an easy and delicious way to fit probiotics into your life. You can try these suggestions or create recipes of your own.
- Make a soup using miso
- Have a yogurt parfait for breakfast with berries and low-sugar granola
- Use sauerkraut as a condiment with your meals
- Instead of a coffee break, try a kombucha break
- Try substituting tempeh for meat in your recipes
- Create a yogurt-based dip or sauce
How to Select a Probiotic Supplement
If you decide to try a probiotic supplement, do your research. All supplements are not created equal. The supplement you choose can make the difference between good results and no results. Selecting a quality supplement like Dr. Ohhira’s gives you the greatest opportunity to manage your gut health for greater wellness.
As you select a probiotic supplement, make sure it has these characteristics:
- Free of artificial flavors and colors
- Contains no gluten or dairy products that could potentially cause allergy problems
- Has no unfamiliar chemical names on the ingredient list
- Contains multiple strains
- Is shelf-stable
- Can pass through stomach acids without being destroyed
FAQs on the Future of Probiotics
What are the potential benefits of probiotics in the future?
Scientists are trying to determine which probiotic strains are most helpful for various health concerns. They are also integrating technology into treatment, using computer simulations for testing and creating apps to track symptoms. As other medical advancements occur, such as more access to genetic information, scientists are investigating how that more in-depth knowledge might enhance probiotic treatment.
How are personalized probiotic treatments changing healthcare?
When doctors can determine the state of an individual’s microbiome, they can target particular deficits with precise probiotic treatments. They believe this approach will improve health more effectively than a less targeted approach.
Are there any innovative applications for probiotics outside of digestion?
Researchers are investigating probiotics’ effects on dental health, aging, digestive issues, obesity, mental health, cognition, and other health concerns.
Find Your Healthier Future
Study after study finds health improvement with probiotics. It is of such interest to the medical community that research continues.
There is much to be excited about when considering the future of probiotics. Genetic research, personalized probiotic treatments, and technological advancements are on the roadmap
to holistic health. Start your journey toward better health today with Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics. Let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear your success stories!