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What Is a Probiotic And What Can it Do For Me?

Are you wondering, “What does a probiotic do, and do I really need one?” Learn more about probiotics and how they can boost your gut and overall health. 


Did you know you have trillions of bacteria living inside your body? It may be hard to imagine, but the bacteria in your body outnumber your body’s own cells! Many of the bacteria in your body are located in your digestive tract. The good news is that most of them are harmless and many of them (including probiotics) are beneficial for human health. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to digest the foods you eat. A small number of bacteria in the body can cause digestive dysfunction and other problems. 


You can boost the number of probiotics (good bacteria) in your body by eating healthy foods and supplementing your diet as needed. Here is a detailed guide to probiotics, how they are beneficial to our bodies, and how Hergreens can help improve your probiotic count! 


What Is a Probiotic?


A probiotic is a type of friendly bacteria (though some yeast types can function as probiotics as well). Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide a variety of health benefits when consumed. If the thought of living creatures swimming around in your gut makes you feel a little queasy, remember that probiotics are friends, not foes. Without a healthy balance of live bacteria in the gut, it would be impossible to maintain optimal digestive health. 


Some foods naturally contain probiotics and some foods have added probiotics. You can also get probiotics from supplements and fermented food (as long as it’s been bacterially fermented). One often-overlooked key to keeping the probiotic colonies in your gut healthy is to consume the types of foods they can subsist on. Probiotics love the same types of food that your body’s cells love (including vegetables and whole grains). 


What Do Probiotics Do?


Now that you know what a probiotic is, you’re probably wondering, “What does a probiotic do?” Probiotics promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. They are also linked to a variety of health benefits. Let’s talk about some of those benefits in detail. 


Probiotics Can Help Treat and Prevent Diarrhea


If you’ve taken antibiotics recently, you have probably discovered that diarrhea is quite common afterward. This is because antibiotics target all types of bacteria in your body—not just the bad types. While occasional antibiotics may be necessary to combat infections, it’s best not to have them too frequently if you can avoid it. 


Fortunately, taking probiotics can help combat antibiotic associated diarrhea. They can also help minimize other types of loose bowel movements, including traveler’s diarrhea and infectious diarrhea. The probiotics Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus have been shown to be particularly effective at reducing diarrhea. 


Probiotics Help Keep the Friendly Bacteria in the Digestive System Balanced


A gut overrun with bad bacteria is not a hospitable place. People with imbalanced gut bacteria often suffer from a lot of health issues, including obesity, digestive issues, mental health problems, allergies, and more. 


There are a variety of things that can disrupt the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, including poor dietary habits, certain medications (such as antibiotics), genetics, and illness. But don’t worry! Your gut may be a mess right now, but there are things you can do to fix it! 


To restore balance to your digestive system, you need to increase the good bacteria in your gut so they can run off some of the bad guys. The best way to do this is by taking probiotics along with eating a healthy diet full of whole foods. 


Some Probiotic Strains Can Boost Heart Health


You only have one heart, so it’s pretty important to keep it beating strong. When you’re watching your heart health, you need to look for signs of a potential problem, such as high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol (which is the bad type). 


Some studies show that consuming probiotics can help reduce LDL cholesterol and may also lower blood pressure. To get optimal heart-boosting results, it’s important to take probiotics for at least eight weeks. 


Probiotic Supplements May Improve Certain Mental Health Conditions


Have you ever felt “hangry” before? If so, you know that humans often joke about how hunger is closely tied to mood. But this connection is so much more than a joke. It’s the real deal! Studies show that the health of our guts can have a big impact on our mental health and mood. 


Consuming Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotic strains can improve a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety. People who take probiotic dietary supplements for at least eight weeks are shown to have reduced levels of inflammatory C-reactive protein and are less likely to feel depressed when compared to people who don’t consume probiotics. 


Probiotics May Reduce Symptoms of Digestive Disorders


Digestive disorders are a huge problem these days. More than a million people in the United States have inflammatory bowel disease, and millions more experience stomach pain and bloating regularly. 


Certain types of probiotics have been shown to improve symptoms in people with various digestive disorders (including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and severe necrotizing enterocolitis). Probiotics help decrease “bad” bacteria colonies in your gut so you can experience improved gut health and fewer symptoms of digestive distress. 


Probiotics May Reduce the Severity of Eczema and Certain Allergies


Eczema and allergies may seem to be completely unrelated to your gut, but they are more closely linked than you might realize. Studies show that people who take probiotics are less likely to develop eczema. Even infants who are fed milk supplements with probiotics are less likely to experience eczema than infants who are fed regular milk without added probiotics. 


Probiotics may also weaken the body’s reaction to certain allergens by reducing the body’s inflammatory responses. To understand exactly how effective probiotics are at reducing eczema and allergies, more research needs to be done. But preliminary studies show a link between probiotic consumption and reduced skin issues. 


Probiotics May Help With Weight Loss


There are so many different supplements that claim to help with weight loss, but probiotics actually follow through on that claim. They may help you lose weight and belly fat by targeting the bad bacteria that are causing your weight gain in the first place. 


But if you’re taking probiotics for weight loss, beware that some strains can actually cause weight gain! Yikes! You’ll want to steer clear of Lactobacillus acidophilus if your goal is a sleeker physique. This type of probiotic has been linked to weight gain in some cases! 


The best probiotic strains for weight loss include Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri. For best results, take these strains for at least 12 weeks. 


Probiotics May Boost Immune Function


Want to get sick less frequently? Take your probiotics, girl! Research shows that taking probiotics can boost the immune system and reduce the likelihood of respiratory infections and urinary tract infections. 


Some probiotics promote natural antibody production. They also boost the production of immune cells like natural killer cells and T lymphocytes. These are the cells that your immune system relies on to fight off the bad guys and help you stay well. 


If you’d like to boost your immune health, try adding probiotic supplements to your daily routine. You probably won’t notice any difference right away, but give it a few weeks and see if you come down with fewer illnesses than usual. Some of the best probiotic strains for the immune system include Bifidobacterium, Acidophilus, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus.  


Why Do I Need Probiotics?


If you still wonder why you need to take probiotics, the answer is simple. Without good bacteria, your body would be unable to absorb nutrients from the foods you consume. You would also find yourself in a state of constant inflammation and illness. Over time, you’d likely start to develop diseases and painful health conditions. 


In addition to helping you absorb nutrients and maintain optimal immune health, your gut flora also helps manufacture important vitamins, including some B vitamins and vitamin K. Beneficial bacteria in your gut flora also convert fibers into short-chain fats. These fats perform a variety of important metabolic functions and help feed your gut wall. 


Probiotics are especially important for women because they can help us maintain the delicate balance of bacteria required for vaginal health. Vaginal probiotics in suppository form are becoming more popular because they are purported to provide rapid benefits due to their close proximity to the vagina (you can’t get any closer to the vagina than inside it!)


But until we know more about suppository vaginal probiotics and their effectiveness, don’t feel pressured to stick anything “up there” that you don’t want to! Oral probiotics work just fine for helping to promote healthy bacteria while creating an inhospitable environment for harmful bacteria throughout the body. 


People with unbalanced gut flora have a higher risk of developing certain diseases and unwanted health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, depression, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. So if you didn’t think probiotics were important before, now you know just how essential they are for overall health! 


What Are the Different Types of Probiotics?


Most probiotic bacteria belong to the groups Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Some yeasts and other bacteria are used as probiotics as well. Here are six of the most common types of probiotics found in probiotic supplementation products:


  • L. acidophilus: This species of probiotic is found in the vagina as well as the small intestine. It may help fight off bad bacteria in the vagina. It also aids in digestion and promotes gut health. 
  • L. reuteri: This species of probiotic is found within the mouth and intestines. It may help decrease “bad” oral bacteria linked to tooth decay. It may also help promote a healthy gut. 
  • B. longum: This species is found primarily in the gastrointestinal tract. It functions as an antioxidant and helps to break down carbohydrates. 
  • B. animalis: You’ll find this species in popular yogurt products and other probiotic rich food sources. This probiotic bacteria type fights off food-borne bacteria and may boost immune function. It also aids digestion. 
  • B. lactis: Derived from raw milk, this species often serves as a starter for cheese and buttermilk. It is also found in some infant formulas. 
  • B breve: This species lives in the vagina as well as in the digestive tract. It is an important type of healthy gut bacteria. It fights off yeast and infection-causing bacteria. It also ferments sugars to help your body absorb the nutrients you consume. 

Do Probiotics Help With Digestion?


Probiotics do a lot of really great things for us. They help balance the gut microbiome so we can more effectively absorb nutrients from the foods we eat. But in order for gut bacteria to create the ideal gut microbiota, we need to feed them. We do this by eating prebiotics. 


Many people confuse probiotics and prebiotics, and it’s easy to understand why. Both words look and sound very similar. But while probiotics are live organisms that help break down the foods you eat and boost your immune function, prebiotics are plant fibers that feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. When probiotics break down the prebiotics you consume, short-chain fatty acids are formed. These fatty acids provide your colon cells with energy, reduce inflammation, and help boost immunity. 


For best results, take probiotics and prebiotics together. Common probiotic foods include:


  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt
  • Probiotic drinks such as kombucha and kefir (fermented milk)
  • Miso (containing probiotics)

Basically, any food or supplement that contains one or more live cultures on the label is considered a probiotic food. 


Prebiotic foods that can help feed your healthy gut bacteria include:


  • Cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, and kale)
  • Dandelion greens
  • Garlic
  • Artichoke
  • Chicory root
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Oats
  • Apples
  • Barley
  • Cocoa
  • Flaxseeds
  • Jicama root
  • Seaweed 
  • Wheat bran
  • Barley grass

This is just a small list of the many different, healthy foods you can eat as prebiotics to fuel the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Remember, without prebiotics to feed on, we can’t keep our gut microbiome balanced and efficient. 


Prebiotics are also important for our overall health. They contain nutrients that we need to stay strong and well. Prebiotics have dietary fiber that helps add bulk to our stools so our bodies can remove waste more easily. 


Do Probiotics Help With Yeast Infections?


For those of us who get frequent yeast infections, probiotics are a match made in heaven. According to research, probiotics may support the vaginal microbiome’s natural balance. When the microbiome in this sensitive area is balanced, it’s not a hospitable place for yeast to grow. But when something happens to disrupt the balance of bacteria in our vagina, yeast decides to move in without warning like an over-eager boyfriend. 


Women who are prone to yeast infections may have a lot of success staving them off with probiotic supplementation. As mentioned earlier in this guide, it’s also important to supplement with prebiotics at the same time so your new “houseguests” have plenty to eat while they’re in there. 


How Many Probiotics Do I Need?


It’s always possible to have too much of a good thing, and probiotics are no exception. When you’re first starting to take probiotics, you may experience some surprising side effects, including mild abdominal discomfort, gas, and bloating. Don’t let these symptoms scare you off, though! It’s normal to feel these sensations when you’re changing the balance of your gut microbiome. Once you adjust to probiotics, these symptoms should subside. 


People with health conditions that compromise their immune systems (such as AIDS and some other serious conditions) may develop life-threatening infections after taking probiotics. But for most people, probiotics are perfectly safe and highly beneficial. 


You only need one good probiotic supplement. There’s no need to spend your money on multiple types at once. The average probiotic dose for adults is somewhere around five billion colony-forming units per day. If you have any questions about how many probiotics are ideal for your health needs, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. 


What Does Hergreens Do?


Hergreens is a great-tasting supplement that delivers the prebiotics your body needs for optimal gut health and bacterial balance. It also contains digestive enzymes to help improve nutrient absorption and create the ideal environment for beneficial gut bacteria. Just one packet of Hergreens powder contains 14 different types of nutritious greens. Mix a packet into a glass of water and sip every day to boost your gut and overall health.  


How Can Hergreens Help My Probiotics Count?


Hergreens contains Broccoli, cabbage, kale, dandelion powder, and other ingredients that are known prebiotics. These prebiotics can help make the most of your probiotic supplementation by feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut so they can flourish. Give it a try and see how your digestive health improves! 


For more information about products designed to help women thrive, visit Mixhers resources. You’ll also find tips for minimizing period pain, understanding your menstrual cycle, and boosting your sex drive and pleasure. Enjoy!