How Do You Know If You Need Probiotics?

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Probiotics have an important role in the maintenance of the natural environment inside the gut, which can keep the gut in a healthy state or an unhealthy state (when there is a probiotic deficiency). Probiotics enhance the ‘good’ bacteria already living in the gut. Probiotics are present in some food and drinks, but can also be taken as a supplement, such as a tablet or capsule containing probiotics. 

Some wonder if probiotics should only be used when prescribed for some conditions, or could it simply be used daily whether or not you are healthy. 


Does Everyone Need Probiotics? 

Are you healthy and wondering if it is necessary to take a probiotic? Some research suggests that daily probiotic supplementation may benefit healthy people, but more research should be done on the effect on older people. There are no dangers of taking a probiotic when you are healthy. 

The gut microbiome is something that can be affected or disrupted easily through lifestyle and diet factors, but also medication. The gut microbiome may be unbalanced, without having a serious disease. It is thus important to be aware of small symptoms that can indicate that the gut microbiome needs some care! Much research has been done to see if probiotics are beneficial, and most research confirms that probiotics can have a positive effect on health. 


Should I Take Probiotics While Taking Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are one of the main factors that destroy the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. Especially long-term use of antibiotics can be harmful to the gut microbiome. Antibiotics destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria that can be infectious or harmful. Unfortunately, antibiotics also kill the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. This can cause diarrhea and vaginal thrush, which is the conditions mostly caused by the use of an antibiotic. The reason therefore is that unwanted bacteria can grow in an unbalanced microbiome. 

The use of a probiotic alongside an antibiotic restores the balance of the gut microbiome and may help to minimise the negative effects of antibiotics. The NHS also confirms the beneficial use of probiotics. A doctor may prescribe the use of probiotics with an antibiotic, or a pharmacist can suggest to take it together. Even if it isn’t prescribed, it can be a good choice to take a probiotic as a supplementation or through certain foods, like yogurt. 

It is suggested to take a probiotic each day during the treatment of an antibiotic course, and it can also be continued after the course. It is recommended to take probiotics and hour or two after the antibiotic. There are many types of antibiotics, and the dosage will differ depending on the type of probiotic supplement you are taking. 


Gut Health and Digestion 

Many digestive problems and gastrointestinal diseases may be related to an unhealthy gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can be described as a disruption of the bacterial composition in the gut. This is due to a decrease in bacterial diversity, loss of beneficial bacteria or an increase of pathogenic bacteria. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the symptoms thereof like bloating, abdominal pain and altered bowel habits may be alleviated through the use of probiotics. There are various opinions on this topic, but some evidence in studies supports the use of probiotics in digestion problems. 

Some probiotics may also decrease the frequency and severity of ulcerative colitis flares. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, where inflammation and ulcers occur in the bowel. To keep the gut microbiome healthy is much more crucial than is often realised. Several health factors, including digestive problems, mental issues, sleep quality, and even skin disorders can be affected by probiotics. More evidence is needed for the improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms in older people. 


Mental Health

Fatigue and poor concentration are sometimes related to an unhealthy gut microbiome. Poor gut health can have an effect on your energy levels and cognitive function. Although there is still some research needed on this topic, studies have shown how the use of probiotics has supported mental health and concentration. It may help sharpen your mental focus and help with sleep quality. 

Imbalance gut bacteria can influence mood and emotional well-being, through the gut-brain connection. The properties of probiotics that support the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, may offer relief from anxiety and depressive symptoms. 


Immune System 

If you frequently get colds or are sensitive to allergies, probiotics are something that you can consider. A healthy gut can help your body’s natural defense system, to reduce the possibility of illness and infections. The gut as part of the immune system, is where pathogens get in contact with the body, and a healthy gut bacteria can kill the pathogen. Research suggests a link between gut health and immune disorders, like certain autoimmune conditions. Probiotics may help modulate the immune system and alleviate symptoms. 


Symptoms That Indicate A Probiotic Deficiency 

If you identify one or more of these symptoms regarding your health, it can indicate that you may benefit from probiotic supplements and foods: 


  • Sleep disorders 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Unstable mood 
  • Bowel disorders
  • Skin conditions (Dermatology)
  • Allergies 
  • Brain fog 


Can Yogurt Replace The Use Of Probiotics? 

Probiotics can be consumed from your diet and drinks. Supplements are not the only option to get some probiotics. The amount of probiotics that is consumed from yogurt may have a different potency than the probiotics you get from certain supplements. 

Plain Greek yogurt is a good source of probiotics to take, although other yogurts are also an option. Look out for yogurts that are labeled to contain live cultures, meaning that they contain a source of probiotics. Not all yogurts contain probiotics, depending on the process of development. However, attention should be given to yogurt that has a high sugar content. 

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