You probably know that probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. You also likely know that our bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad and that probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. But here are four things you probably didn’t know about probiotics:
- Probiotics are Good for Your Skin – Probiotics and friendly bacteria are now being put into creams and sprays to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne. There are about 100,000 bacteria per square centimeter on the surface of our skin and these are made up to 200-300 different types of bacteria. Scientists have recently found that people with healthy skin have higher levels of protective bacteria known as S. epidermis and S. hominis while those with eczema have higher levels of bacteria called S. aureus. In a study reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers isolated samples of the protective bacteria and mixed them into a cream that they then rubbed onto the arms of subjects with eczema. The cream drastically reduced the levels of S. aureus in their skin.
- Probiotics Can Help You Lose Weight – The modern American diet is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, artificial sweeteners and antibiotics. All these things wreak havoc on your gut and can leave your gut bacteria weaker for years to come. If your microbiome doesn’t contain enough friendly species of bacteria you may extract more calories from the foods you do eat, leading to weight gain. Plus, bacteria interact with hormones in your gut that regulate appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin. Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut environment with probiotics can help you maintain a healthy weight and even lose excess weight!
- Probiotics Can Boost Your Mood – In the past, many scientists have been skeptical of claims that probiotics could influence your mental health, but now there’s a hard link between the two. Just this year, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have reversed depression symptoms in mice by feeding them Lactobacillus, probiotic bacteria found in live-culture yogurt. Further, they have discovered a specific mechanism for how the bacteria affect mood, providing a direct link between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health. Based on their findings, the researchers are optimistic that their discovery will hold true in people and are planning to confirm their findings in patients with depression.
- Probiotics Improve Heart Health – a new Cleveland Clinic study links a certain type of detrimental stomach bacteria with heart disease. By keeping high levels of beneficial bacteria thriving in the intestines, researchers theorize that heart-disease-causing microbes can be kept at bay. It gives us a brand-new way of looking at heart disease. It also opens an avenue for new tests and treatments. The discovery of the heart disease-causing bacteria might explain why about half of those who die of sudden heart attacks have no known risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes.