Should I Be Taking A Probiotic? 5 Signs You Should Start ASAP

Your gut health is essential to your overall health. Here’s how probiotics could help and when to take them.

By Rebecca Hope3 min read
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Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria. They’re naturally present in fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha, but are also sold as supplements. Probiotics enhance the gut microbiome, which is a collection of bacteria that helps regulate digestion, heart health, immune function, and inflammation.

Recent research shows gut health is essential to overall health, revealing how our gut microbiome can affect every organ in our body. By adding probiotics to your diet, studies have shown it may reduce blood sugar levels, as well as support weight loss, liver function, skin health, and mental well-being.

 Here are five signs you may need to add probiotics to your diet. 

1. Digestive Problems

Gas, bloating, and irregular bowel movements could be signs that you need to take a probiotic. Although studies on probiotics have been small, it’s believed that they help with the below issues:

  • Colic

  • Constipation

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Lactose intolerance

  • Ulcerative colitis 

2. You’ve Finished a Course of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are a lifesaving medication; however, they do have some downsides. Not only do they kill off all the infection-causing bacteria that are in your body, but they also kill off a large amount of the good bacteria in your gut.

This upsets the balance of good and bad bacteria, which may cause issues such as constipation. That’s why it’s important to repopulate your gut with good bacteria after a course of antibiotics. You can do this by adding more food into your diet that naturally contains probiotics – like sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, or kombucha – or by taking supplements.

3. You’re Experiencing Skin Issues

Skin and gut health may seem unrelated, but research shows that the quality of your digestive system can affect a variety of organs – like your skin!

Certain probiotics ensure acne-causing bacteria levels remain in check by boosting your skin’s production of ceramides. 

Evidence suggests that using probiotics may help prevent and treat skin conditions, including eczema, acne, dry skin, and UV-induced skin damage. Plus, certain probiotics have been shown to trap moisture in the skin and ensure acne-causing bacteria levels remain in check by boosting your skin’s production of ceramides. 

4. You Have a Slow Metabolism

In a study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine, researchers looked at the gut bacteria of 154 people. They discovered that those who had the smallest variety of bacteria were more likely to be obese.

However, if you’re overweight and part of the problem is your gut microbiome, taking probiotics won’t solve the problem alone. A proper diet and exercise are still essential to maintaining a healthy body weight.

5. You Have a Leaky Gut

A healthy intestinal lining forms a tight barrier and controls what is absorbed into the bloodstream. On the other hand, an unhealthy gut lining allows partially digested food and other toxins to penetrate the tissues beneath it because it has large cracks or holes. Once in the bloodstream, the immune system initiates an inflammatory response. This is called leaky gut, which is also known as increased intestinal permeability.

Probiotics help treat leaky gut by rebalancing your gut flora, restoring your intestinal wall, and relieving intestinal inflammation.

If you have leaky gut, you may suffer from gas and bloating, low energy, and painful indigestion, among other symptoms. Probiotics help this condition by rebalancing your gut flora, restoring your intestinal wall, and relieving intestinal inflammation.

How To Find the Right Probiotic Supplement

Generally, it’s recommended to choose a probiotic product with at least one billion colony-forming units (CFUs). You’ll also want the probiotic to contain some of the most researched bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Bacillus, or Saccharomyces boulardii.

If you’re hoping to treat a certain condition, research the correct dosage for that condition. You’ll need to ensure the dose of the probiotic lines up with what the research says you need to treat the condition effectively. 

Different probiotics require different storage – some can be stored at room temperature, while others must be kept in the refrigerator. So, when you’re buying your probiotic, check to make sure you can store it appropriately.

The last thing you need to check before you buy a probiotic supplement is the “use by” date. As the product gets older, the amount of CFUs in the probiotic may decrease. That’s why it’s important to check you’re not buying something too close to the “use by” date. 

Closing Thoughts

Consuming more probiotic-rich food isn't likely to cause harm, and may help keep your gut balanced and happy! In fact, most people don’t experience side effects when taking probiotics – and if they do, it’s usually a very mild side effect, such as a little more gas than usual. But if you’re treating a serious health condition, it’s better to check with your doctor first to see if they’re safe for you as they may not be appropriate for someone with a weakened immune system.

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