The Power of Probiotics
Many integrative practitioners believe that a probiotic supplement is an important daily foundation for optimal health. Why is that?
A significant amount of progress has been made by researchers, revealing the myriad of health-supporting benefits of probiotics as well as identifying key mechanisms of action. While the beneficial effects of probiotics in the gastrointestinal tract have been known for a long time,* the connection between the gut and other body systems is surfacing as an exciting area of scientific interest.
In addition to GI health, probiotics—and more specifically, optimal bacterial balance—can help support:
- Immune system function*
- Healthy inflammatory response*
- Brain function*
- Heart function*
- Skin health*
Emerging research is even showing that bacterial balance plays a role in weight management.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial published in 2017 in the journal Nutrients demonstrated that probiotic supplementation helped control appetite and food cravings in overweight men and women, which lead to weight loss.* This is consistent with a 2016 review published in Nutrition & Metabolism that concluded, “Probiotics have physiologic functions that contribute to the health of gut microbiota, can affect food intake and appetite, body weight and composition and metabolic functions through gastrointestinal pathways and modulation of the gut bacterial community.”*
The gut-brain connection has been getting a lot of attention in the scientific literature as well. A 2017 literature review published in the journal Clinics and Practice concluded that because of the bidirectional interactions between the gut and the brain, probiotics may positively support mental health.* This conclusion is consistent with similar studies including a 2018 review published in the journal Nutrition Reviews that looked at in vitro, in vivo, and human clinical trials.
All of these health benefits occur when there is an optimal bacterial balance in the gut. Because the bacterial community is constantly changing, consistent replenishment of the good bacteria is helpful in maintaining gut homeostasis and reducing risk of dysbiosis.* That’s why many integrative practitioners feel probiotics should be a foundational supplement taken daily by most of their patients.
Bron PA, Kleerebezem M, Brummer RJ, et al. British Journal of Nutrition. 2017;117:93-107.
Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, et al. Clinics and Practice. 2017;7:987.
Kobyliak N, Conte C, Cammarota G, et al. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2016;13:14.
Mohajeri M, La Fata G, Steinert RE, Weber P. Nutrition Reviews. 2018;76(7):481-496.
Markowiak P, Slizewska K. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):1021.
Sanchez M, Darimont C, Panahi S, et al. Nutrients. 2017;9(3):284.