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The Importance of Probiotics

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

When quality probiotics are consumed in adequate amounts, the health benefits are endless, from balancing bacteria in the gut, linked to overall health and disease, to weight loss, digestive health, and even immune functionality.

gut health

Probiotics are live microorganisms consumed through fermented foods, yogurt, or supplementation (1). When the gut microbiome is disrupted, an onslaught of negative symptoms can ensue from the overgrowth of bad bacterial strains or yeast. Some signs that your gut microbiome needs help include:

  • Low back pain (with no apparent physical cause)

  • White/yellow coating on the tongue

  • Chronic congestion or mild productive cough

  • Bloating/pain in the center of your abdomen, just below ribs

  • Tiny white bumps on arms or legs

  • Trouble falling asleep before 2/3 a.m., or waking between 2 and 4 a.m. and being unable to fall back to sleep

  • Difficulty waking/feeling alert in the morning

  • Mild, aching pain around joints or along the inside/outside of arms and legs (feels like you need to stretch/move, but that doesn’t quite make it go away)

  • Urine has a bacon-like smell (this can also be a urinary tract infection)

  • Intense and frequent sugar cravings

  • Inability to lose weight, despite diet/exercise changes

  • Frequent heartburn

  • Irregular menstrual cycle

For more information about gut health, a gut health protocol, and gut health product recommendations, check out Earthley's free Gut Health Support Guide, which I co-wrote, here.

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Benefits of Probiotics

May Balance The Good Bacteria In Your Digestive System

Probiotics are good bacteria that can provide health benefits when consumed (2). These benefits are said to result from the probiotic's ability to restore the natural balance of gut bacteria (3). An imbalance in gut bacteria may result from too many harmful bacteria and not enough good bacteria due to underlying conditions, antibiotics, or even a poor diet. The result of an imbalance may cause digestive issues, allergies, mental health problems, or even obesity (4). A great gut-balancing probiotic, especially for restoring gut health, is Garden of Life's Restore Probiotic.

May Reduce The Symptoms of Digestive Disorders

Over one million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (5). Certain probiotics like the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have improved the symptoms of mild ulcerative colitis (6). One study found that supplementation with the probiotic E. Coli Nissle was just as effective as drugs in managing and maintaining symptoms of ulcerative colitis (7). Earlier research also suggests that probiotics may help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (8) while also reducing the risk of severe necrotizing enterocolitis by 50 percent in premature infants (9). Unfortunately, probiotics appear to have little effect on symptoms of Crohn's disease (10). A great digestive prebiotic and probiotic blend is MaryRuth's Gut Flora Health+ Enzymes.

May Prevent & Treat Diarrhea

One of the most common uses for probiotics is their ability to prevent and reduce the severity of diarrhea. Diarrhea is a common side effect of taking antibiotics due to the harmful effect antibiotics have on the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut (11). The detrimental effects of antibiotics on the gut are why they often recommend eating yogurt when you've been prescribed an antibiotic. One study found that taking probiotics reduced antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 42 percent (12).

"CDC estimates about 47 million antibiotic courses each year are prescribed for infections that don’t need antibiotics in U.S. doctors’ offices and emergency departments each year. That’s about 30% of all antibiotics prescribed (13)."

Probiotics can also improve other causes of diarrhea, not necessarily just antibiotic-associated diarrhea. An extensive review of 35 studies found that certain strains of probiotics can lessen the duration of infectious diarrhea by an average of 25 hours (14). Another study found that probiotics helped reduce travelers' diarrhea by 8 percent while also lowering the risk of other causes in children by 57 percent and 26 percent in adults (15). Strains most commonly associated with reducing the risk of diarrhea are Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii (16,17). Two great probiotics (the ones my husband and I take) containing two out of three of these strands are Garden of Life's Once Daily Women's Probiotic or Garden of Life's Once Daily Men's Probiotic.

May Help Keep Your Heart Healthy

Probiotics may aid in keeping your heart healthy by reducing bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Bile is a naturally occurring fluid produced in your liver and stored in your gallbladder, which is mostly of cholesterol and helps the digestion process (18). Certain lactic acid-producing bacteria may help reduce cholesterol by breaking down the gut's bile (19). By breaking down the bile, probiotics potentially prevent it from reabsorbing in the gut and entering the blood as cholesterol (20). A review of five studies analyzed found that eating a probiotic yogurt for 2-8 weeks reduced total cholesterol by 4 percent and bad cholesterol by 5 percent (21). Another study review found that consuming probiotics may lower blood pressure. The study review reviewed nine studies and found that probiotic supplements modestly reduced blood pressure (22). To experience any benefits for blood pressure, supplementation had to exceed eight weeks and at least 10 million colony-forming units (CFUs) daily (23).

May Reduce The Severity of Allergies and Eczema

Certain strains of probiotics may reduce the severity of allergies and eczema. One study found that infants with eczema fed probiotic-supplemented milk had improved symptoms compared to infants fed milk without probiotics (24). Another study followed the children of women who took probiotics during their pregnancy, and they found that those children have an 83 percent lower risk of developing eczema during their first two years of life (25). Some probiotics may also reduce inflammation responses in people with milk or dairy allergies (26).

May Boost Your Immune System

Probiotics may boost your immune system by inhibiting the growth of harmful gut bacteria (27). Some probiotics have also been shown to promote the production and natural antibiotics in the body, which may also boost the immune cells like the IgA-producing cells, T lymphocytes, and natural killer cells (28,29). One study found that taking Lactobacillus GG reduced the frequency and severity of respiratory by 17 percent in the 570 children included in their research (30). A great probiotic for the immune system is Garden of Life's Immune+ Probiotic. The Lactobacillus crispatus probiotic strain has been shown to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in women by 50 percent (31). A great urinary tract probiotic is Garden of Life's Urinary Tract+ Probiotic.

May Improve Mental Health Conditions

Studies have linked gut health to mood and overall mental health (32). One review of 15 human studies found that supplementing Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus probiotic strains for 1-2 months can improve anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and memory (33). Another study following 70 chemical workers for six weeks found that those who consumed 100 grams of probiotic yogurt per day or a probiotic supplement experienced benefits for general health, depression, anxiety, and stress (34). A great mental health probiotic is Garden of Life's Mood+ Probiotic.

May Help You Lose Weight & Belly Fat

Probiotics may also help with weight loss for several reasons. For example, some probiotic strains help prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine, which is then excreted through feces instead of storing it in the body (35). Probiotics may also help you feel fuller, burn more calories and store less fat due to an increased level of hormones lip GLP-1 (36). One study found that those who look at Lactobacillus gasseri, even in low doses for 12 weeks, resulted in an 8.5 percent reduction in belly fat (37). A great weight management probiotic is MaryRuth's Wight Management+ Probiotic.

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Understanding Probiotic Doses & Strains

When looking at dosages, a general rule of thumb should be at least 1 billion CFUs (38). The typical dosage of probiotics ranges from 5 to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) for children and 10 to 20 billion CFUs for adults (39). The two most common species of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, and each species has its own set of strains with its own set of health benefits.

good and bad probiotic strains

Lactobacillus Acidophilus

  • Supports lactose digestion

  • Helps balance the microbiome to reduce gastrointestinal problems

  • Helps alleviate mild, occasional constipation

  • Supports a healthy immune system (40)

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus

  • Supports digestive and immune health

  • Assists with healthy weight management

  • Supports women’s health (40)

Lactobacillus Reuteri

  • Promotes oral health

  • Supports women’s health

  • Supports heart health (40)

Lactobacillus Plantarum

  • Supports digestion

  • Supports a healthy immune system

  • Relieves occasional bloating and intestinal discomfort (40)

Lactobacillus Gasseri

  • Supports digestion

  • Assists with healthy weight management

  • Supports a healthy immune system (40)

Bifidobacterium Lactis

  • Supports digestion

  • Supports a healthy immune system

  • Relieves occasional constipation (40)

Bifidobacterium Bifidum

  • Supports digestion

  • Supports a healthy immune system

  • Aids in lactose digestion (40)

Bifidobacterium Longum

  • Supports digestion

  • Supports a healthy immune system

  • Relieves occasional constipation

  • Supports a healthy response to occasional stress (40)

Bifidobacterium Infantis

  • Minimizes gastrointestinal distress due to microbiome composition

  • Aids in the digestion of human milk

  • Colonizes the infant microbiome with healthy bacteria

  • Utilizes the special sugars contained in breast milk (40)

⚠️ Warning: The Holistic Hipppie is not a functional medicine practitioner. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or replace medical guidance. The Holistic Hipppie assumes no liability for the application of the information discussed.

Probiotic Supplement Recommendations

good and bad probiotics
  • Garden of Life Immune+ Probiotics is a targeted formula, including two of the most widely studied probiotics, L.Acidophilus NCFM and L. Rhamnosus gg> our diverse strains are resistant to stomach acid and bile. This is important, considering over 70% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract.

  • Garden of Life Mood+ Digestive+ Immune System Probiotics is a unique formula with 16 probiotic strains, including clinically studied probiotics L. helveticus R0052 and B. longum R0175 in the amounts clinically shown to support mood and relaxation. Mood + also has 350mg of organic ashwagandha and organic Alaskan blueberries.

  • Garden of Life Once Daily Men's Probiotics is a specifically designed supplement with a high probiotic count to support a healthy microbiome and men’s specific health needs. This unique formula is created with a high count of beneficial probiotics made from diverse strains, including Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria that are resistant to stomach acid and bile, exclusively for men's colon support occasional gas and constipation relief and immune system health.

  • Garden of Life Once Daily Women’s Probiotics is a specifically designed supplement with a high probiotic count to support a healthy microbiome and women’s specific health needs. This unique formula was created with a high count of beneficial probiotics made from diverse strains, including Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, resistant to stomach acid and bile, exclusively for women’s digestion and digestion immune system health.

  • Garden of Life Organic Kid's Probiotics+ Plus Vitamin C & D is a certified USDA organic, delicious berry cherry chewable, kid-friendly probiotic-with 14 probiotic strains and 5 billion CFU, plus vitamins C and D, no added sugars or sweeteners, and a taste they will love.

  • Garden of Life Prostate+ Digestive + Immune Support Probtiocs also contains 50 billion CFU from 15 probiotics, including B. animalis subsp. lactis for digestive and immune system support, as well as 1,000IU of whole food vitamin D3 for prostate health. Prostate+ also contains 500mg of Organic flowers, the clinically studied amount in "Gold Standard" human trials for prostate health, normal urine flow, and men’s prostate health.

  • Garden of Life Restore Probiotic is best used during and immediately after the immune system and gut flora have been compromised when the digestive system needs extra care. Restore probiotic is a highly potent formula with 200 billion CFU of beneficial probiotics, Made from diverse strains that are resistant to stomach acid and bile for extra digestive and immune system support.

  • Garden of Life Urinary Tract+ Probiotic contains 50 billion CFU from 16 probiotics, including L. reuteri and L. acidophilus NCFM, plus whole food vitamin D (1,000IU) nutrient support for immune system health. Urinary Tract+ also contains 500mg of organic pacran cranberry, the clinically studied amount in Gold Standard human trials designed to support urinary tract health.

  • MaryRuth's Gut Flora Health+ Enzymes is a robust prebiotic, probiotic, and enzyme blend formulated to support gastrointestinal health and maintain a healthy gut environment. This unique blend of enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics has been formulated to support the maintenance of the integrity of the gut’s lining, which is important for a balanced immune response.

  • MaryRuth's Liquid Probiotics is formulated to help support a healthy microbiome and digestive tract with a blend of 12 probiotic strains. A healthy microbiome is important in promoting gut lining health, which supports a robust immune system.

  • MaryRuth's Liquid Probiotics for Infants was formulated for the unique microbiome of an infant’s digestive system. A healthy microbiome is important in promoting gut lining health, which supports the development of a robust immune system. This liquid probiotic is composed of 4 probiotic strains that help to support a growing infant microbiome and digestive tract!

  • MaryRuth's Organic Kids Probiotic Gummies is a great-tasting gummy supporting a kid's gut and digestive health. This probiotic is formulated with Bacillus subtilis, which may help maintain normal gut comfort & function. The importance of a healthy gut microbiome is becoming increasingly well-known, and providing the gut with probiotics can be beneficial at any age.

  • MaryRuth's Probiotic Beauty+ combines vitamins, probiotics, and phytoceramides to promote skin health, collagen production, and healthy hair, skin, and nails. Let this beauty boost work for you!

  • MaryRuth's Probiotic Postnatal+ is a probiotic blend for breastfeeding moms or supports your postnatal needs. This Postnatal+ also contains iron, selenium, choline, ashwagandha, and ginger. With all of these nutrients encapsulated with probiotic strains, these capsules are formulated to support your postpartum health.

  • MaryRuth's Probiotic Prenatal+ is a probiotic with added vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to support your and your growing baby’s nutrient needs. With essential nutrients for the brain that may help mom's brain health and aid in optimal brain development in the growing baby and so much more.

  • MaryRuth's Probiotic Turmeric+ is a blend of turmeric, and three probiotic strains were formulated to support the gastrointestinal tract. Promotes gut health in various ways, including modulating the microbiome and supporting immune function.

  • MaryRuth's Probiotic Weight Management+ is a blend of probiotic strains and botanicals made to promote gut health and support your overall weight management goals. Support your gut health and gut biome while supporting weight management.

What's your favorite benefit of probiotics?



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