To explain how probiotics contribute to digestive health, we must first understand gut microbiota and the role it plays in both digestive and overall health. The human gut microbiota has been the subject of a significant amount of research in recent years, and our knowledge of the variety and type of species of bacteria it includes and the function each plays is growing. The rising level of interest in this area of research is due to the discovery that the balance of microbiota in the gut affects a lot more than digestion alone. “Our gut harbours a complex community of over 100 trillion microbial cells which influence human physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function while disruption to the gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.”1
Recognize the Symptoms of Digestive Distress
Among the trillions of microbial cells in your gut, there are bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Seems like an odd combination, but as long as the various microorganisms maintain a healthy balance, they work in harmony to keep your digestive tract running smoothly. When this balance is thrown out of whack, dysbiosis may occur. “Dysbiosis is a state in which the homeostasis (relative stability) of the gut microbiome is disrupted, often leading to health problems.”2 Some of the factors that may cause a disruption in the balance include taking certain medications like antibiotics, eating a poor diet, and chronic stress. These circumstances can lead to an unhealthy gut and often additional health issues. Possible symptoms range from frequent gas and bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea or constipation, and food intolerances to psychological effects such as depression and anxiety.
Maintain a Healthy Digestive Tract
Talk to your doctor if you’ve been experiencing one or more of these symptoms and they don’t dissipate over time, as it may indicate that you need to make some lifestyle changes. Are you eating a diet high in simple carbs, constantly feeling anxious or worried, or regularly forgoing exercise for pizza and streaming a good show? Adopting better lifestyle habits can help you feel better in general and potentially ease uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. You can also add a probiotic to your daily routine. Probiotics are supplements that are made up of the “good” type of bacteria that can help restore the balance in your gut. Studies have also shown promising results with regard to the use of probiotics in addressing more serious health problems. “In recent years, prebiotics and probiotics have been widely used in treatment of some diseases, and have shown great effects.”3 Taking a high-quality probiotic can help maintain a healthy balance in your gut. The more we learn about the role that gut microbiota play in important bodily systems, like the immune and metabolic systems, the more we’re understanding how influential it can be on human health as a whole.