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March 22, 2022 4 min read

The search for optimal health on behalf of human beings has been on the rise, placing its expectations, in part, on the use of nutritional supplements as a method of daily health support. Within these, probiotics have been found to be highly beneficial to overall health, revolutionizing an ever-growing sector.

The use of probiotics has been strongly supported by the scientific community, especially since various exogenous factors, such as industrial pollutants, ultra-processed food products, increasingly accelerated and stressful lifestyles, among others, have multiplied their presence, increasing, in turn, the development of many pathologies. The regular and supervised consumption of probiotics could help to stop the advance of these factors.

Studies have shown numerous benefits to human health from the use of supplemented probiotics. The 3 main ones are described below.

1. Support for the microbiota and intestinal health.

Basically, probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are normally found in our intestines, thus forming, at least in part, what is known as the gut microbiota.

The increase in the number of healthy bacterial populations is what would be the main benefit of probiotic consumption, since it has been shown that a good bacterial composition at an intestinal level is capable of providing health to the whole body. However, it is at this level where the first benefits are seen, including:

  • Improvement of the state of the intestinal barrier.
  • Reduction of local inflammation.
  • Regulation of intestinal transit.
  • Increased digestion and absorption of nutrients.

For these reasons, the use of probiotics as a supportive method in the conventional treatment of intestinal conditions, such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, chronic constipation, diverticulosis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases, etc., has increased significantly in recent years.

2. Probiotics in immunity.

Another important benefit of probiotics is their ability to improve the performance of the immune system. This is achieved through direct improvement of the intestinal barrier, not allowing pathogenic microorganisms to pass through to deeper levels, and also through indirect mechanisms that include both the production of antibodies and the modulation of immune processes in response to threats.

These facts have promoted the use of probiotics in immune-related medical disorders, including viral and bacterial infections, allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other pathologies of autoimmune origin.

3. Probiotics and the brain-gut axis.

Recently, a bidirectional link between the brain and the gut was discovered, led, on one hand, by neurons and all the mental processing they promote, and, on the other hand, by the bacteria of the gut microbiota.

Among the mechanisms used to enable this communication are the direct activation of neural pathways, the production and modulation of neurotransmitters, and the decrease of inflammation levels at a neuronal level. Probiotics have been included in numerous studies, evaluating their effects on mental pathologies, such as depression, anxiety, Alzheimer's, autism spectrum disorders, among others, finding positive results.

 

There is no doubt about it: the inclusion of probiotics in everyday nutrition can promote diverse outcomes capable of supporting overall health. However, it is important to consult an expert in the matter to learn more about the subject and to know which is the best probiotic supplement to consume.

 

Scientific references.

Alarcón, P., González, M., & Castro, É. (2016). [The role of gut microbiota in the regulation of the immune response]. Revista Medica De Chile, 144(7), 910–916. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0034-98872016000700013

Ansari, F., Pourjafar, H., Tabrizi, A., & Homayouni, A. (2020). The Effects of Probiotics and Prebiotics on Mental Disorders: A Review on Depression, Anxiety, Alzheimer, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 21(7), 555–565. https://doi.org/10.2174/1389201021666200107113812

Azad, Md. A. K., Sarker, M., & Wan, D. (2018). Immunomodulatory Effects of Probiotics on Cytokine Profiles. BioMed Research International, 2018, 8063647. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8063647

Bron, P. A., Kleerebezem, M., Brummer, R.-J., Cani, P. D., Mercenier, A., MacDonald, T. T., Garcia-Ródenas, C. L., & Wells, J. M. (2017). Can probiotics modulate human disease by impacting intestinal barrier function? The British Journal of Nutrition, 117(1), 93–107. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114516004037

Bruce-Keller, A., Salbaum, J. M., & Berthoud, H.-R. (2018). Harnessing Gut Microbes for Mental Health: Getting from Here to There. Biological Psychiatry, 83(3), 214–223. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.08.014

de Vos, W. M., & de Vos, E. A. (2012). Role of the intestinal microbiome in health and disease: From correlation to causation. Nutrition Reviews, 70, S45–S56. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00505.x

Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2017). Brain-Gut-Microbiota Axis and Mental Health. Psychosomatic Medicine, 79(8), 920–926. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000519

Frei, R., Akdis, M., & O’Mahony, L. (2015). Prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, and the immune system: Experimental data and clinical evidence. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, 31(2), 153–158. https://doi.org/10.1097/MOG.0000000000000151

Gill, H., & Prasad, J. (2008). Probiotics, immunomodulation, and health benefits. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 606, 423–454. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-74087-4_17

Järbrink-Sehgal, E., & Andreasson, A. (2020). The gut microbiota and mental health in adults. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 62, 102–114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2020.01.016

Kim, S.-K., Guevarra, R. B., Kim, Y.-T., Kwon, J., Kim, H., Cho, J. H., & Lee, H. B. K. and J.-H. (2019). Role of Probiotics in Human Gut Microbiome-Associated Diseases. 29(9), 1335–1340. https://doi.org/10.4014/jmb.1906.06064

Markowiak, P., & Śliżewska, K. (2017). Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients, 9(9), 1021. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9091021

Sebastián Domingo, J. J., & Sánchez Sánchez, C. (2017). From the intestinal flora to the microbiome. Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas, 110(1), 51–56. https://doi.org/10.17235/reed.2017.4947/2017

Wang, B., Yao, M., Lv, L., Ling, Z., & Li, L. (2017). The Human Microbiota in Health and Disease. Engineering, 3(1), 71–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENG.2017.01.008

Wieërs, G., Belkhir, L., Enaud, R., Leclercq, S., Philippart de Foy, J.-M., Dequenne, I., de Timary, P., & Cani, P. D. (2020). How Probiotics Affect the Microbiota. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 9, 454. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00454

Zhou, L., & Foster, J. A. (2015). Psychobiotics and the gut–brain axis: In the pursuit of happiness. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 11, 715–723. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S61997

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