Your digestive tract is home to around 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. Together, these tiny organisms make up what is known as your gut microbiota.
The bacteria in your gut can be thrown off balance from poor diet, new medications, and chronic stress. Over time, an unbalanced gut flora may lead to digestive problems and chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.
The best way to restore your gut microbiome is by taking a high-quality probiotic supplement or eating probiotic-rich foods.
Research has shown that consuming probiotics restores the natural balance of good bacteria in your digestive tract leading to improved digestion and reduced risk of chronic disease.
If you have decided to take the leap and jump on the probiotics train, you may question if your probiotic supplement is actually working.
This article will discuss how probiotics and probiotic supplements improve gut health, and the top 10 signs probiotics are working.
- Probiotics contain beneficial microorganisms that can help fight off harmful bacteria and restore a healthy gut microbiome. An imbalanced gut microbiome has been linked to digestive discomfort, chronic disease, and gastrointestinal conditions.
- To fully benefit from a probiotic supplement, choosing a high-quality supplement that can endure stomach acid and reach the small intestine is essential.
- If you are experiencing improved energy levels, fewer sugar cravings, weight loss, regular bowel movements, improved digestion, among other benefits, your probiotic is likely working.
HOW PROBIOTICS IMPROVE GUT HEALTH TO STRENGTHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Did you know that over 70% of your immune system resides in your gut? This is why a balanced gut with healthy bacteria is necessary for a strong immune system.
So, where do probiotics fit the picture?
Probiotics are made up of tiny microorganisms similar to the good bacteria naturally found in your gut. As they work to restore bacteria in your gut, your immune system gets stronger.
Probiotics also support a healthy immune system by directly interacting with the immune cells in our gut and activating multiple immune mechanisms.
A properly functioning immune system plays a key role in protecting our body from foreign invaders like harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxins.
When we’re sick, the bad bacteria enter and multiply, which throws our gut balance off.
If we do not consume probiotic-rich foods or take a probiotic supplement when our gut bacteria is off balance, the bad bacteria will continue to grow and take over. This causes our immune system to weaken, resulting in frequent illness.
Different strains have different effects on your body and immune system, so it’s important to choose a high-quality probiotic that takes a comprehensive approach to gut health to see noticeable improvements.
With that said, here are 10 signs your probiotics are working.
10 WAYS TO KNOW YOUR PROBIOTICS ARE WORKING
- Improved Digestion
- Regular Bowel Movements
- Increased Energy
- Improved Mood
- Reduced Anxiety
- Weight Loss
- Reduced Sugar Cravings
- Improved Immunity
- Increased Cognitive Functions
- Healthy Cholesterol Levels
One of the first changes you’ll notice with a good probiotic is improved digestive health. Probiotics help digest lactose and decrease unpleasant gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, including gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.
One study published in 2018 looked at the effect of probiotics in people with irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers found significant improvements in pain, cramping, gas, and diarrhea in those who consumed probiotics.
REGULAR BOWEL MOVEMENTS
Another clear sign of a healthy gut microbiome is regular bowel movements.
The strongest evidence for probiotics is associated with their ability to treat diarrhea caused by antibiotics or a virus. Newer studies also suggest that probiotics play an essential role in reducing constipation.
For example, one study found that probiotics increased weekly bowel movements by 1.3 and softened stools, making them easier to pass.
As we discussed earlier, a gut imbalance can lead to inflammation. The inflammation can prevent your body from properly absorbing nutrients. Over time, this leads to nutrient deficiencies that can cause fatigue.
A good probiotic will work to reduce inflammation and repair your gut lining, resulting in better absorption of vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. Not only does this optimize your nutritional status, but it also leads to improved energy levels.
Additionally, healthy gut flora can support the production of extra B vitamins that directly impact your energy levels.
New research suggests that the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract send signals to your central nervous system, leading to constant communication with your gut and brain.
In fact, the gut is often referred to as a “second brain” because it produces similar neurotransmitters as our brain. Research suggests that over 90% of serotonin, or the feel-good hormone, is made in the GI tract.
This is why stressful situations can trigger GI discomfort, and GI disorders like IBS can trigger stress.
Ultimately, when your gut is happy and functioning correctly, you are too!
Although we still need more research to prove probiotics as beneficial to reduce anxiety, current studies appear promising.
One small study found that women who ate yogurt blended with probiotics twice a day for 28 days were calmer when exposed to frightened and angry faces than the control group.
MRI scans also showed that the women who consumed the yogurt had lower insula activity, the area of the brain that processes internal body sensations.
Research suggests different balances of gut bacteria are linked to a person’s body weight and composition. Studies indicate that certain types of bacteria referred to as “obese microbiota” are linked to an increased body fat composition than a “lean microbiota.”
It’s also believed that probiotics may prevent absorption of fat from our diet, increasing the amount of fat excreted and reducing the amount of calories absorbed.
Your gut also helps regulate your appetite by alerting your brain when it's time to stop eating. Probiotics can also stimulate the release of the appetite-regulating hormone GLP-1 and peptide YY. These hormones can help you burn calories and fat.
REDUCED SUGAR CRAVINGS
Many experts suggest adding probiotics or fermented foods to the diet as one of the best ways to beat sugar cravings.
This is because when our gut bacteria are imbalanced, we tend to have an increased craving for sweets. Excess sugar consumption feeds the unhealthy gut bacteria causing it to take over, resulting in dysbiosis, which leads to even more cravings for sugar.
If you’ve been dealing with uncontrollable sugar cravings and have noticed improvement, your probiotic is likely doing its job!
As we mentioned earlier, 70% of your immune system resides in your gut and is where good bacteria team up with immune cells to fight off harmful bacteria and toxins.
So, if you start noticing fewer or shorter durations of seasonal allergies and colds, it’s a sure sign that your probiotic is working.
INCREASED COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Probiotics can improve memory, attention, and processing speed when taken consistently.
Some studies have shown a link between probiotics and reduced levels of anxiety.
One study from 2016 published in Frontiers found that patients with Alzheimer’s who drank milk composed of four probiotic bacteria had better scores on a test to measure cognitive impairment than those who didn’t.
HEALTHY CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
A good body of scientific evidence has shown that certain probiotics, like Lactobacilli, can lower cholesterol levels.
One review of studies revealed that Lactobacillus probiotics significantly reduced total cholesterol and the “bad,” or LDL cholesterol.
If you have elevated cholesterol levels and lab tests begin to reveal improvements in blood cholesterol levels, your probiotic may be playing a role in this, too!
INGREDIENTS TO LOOK FOR IN PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS
All probiotics are not created equal. To notice the benefits of probiotics, choosing a high-quality probiotic supplement is essential.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a product that at the very least:
- Has a minimum of 1 billion colony forming units (CFUs)
- Contains the two widely studied Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics
- Include soil-based organisms
- Has been third-party tested to verify composition
Lactobacillus has been widely studied to offer various benefits mentioned earlier for a healthy gut microbiome. It’s commonly found in fermented foods and yogurt.
Bifidobacterium helps break down the food that you eat and promotes nutrient absorption. It also is known for taking over the harmful bacteria in your gut and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Soil-based organisms like Bacillus subtilis are known for their spore-forming abilities, and tough exterior made up of complex proteins. This allows it to withstand stomach acid and travel to your small intestine to release its contents.
Poor quality probiotics are fragile and may not be able to resist harsh stomach acid.
If you’re looking for a superior product, we recommend trying our Gut Health Probiotics. You’ll get all of the above, plus more!
Our spore-forming Gut Health Probiotics is made up of seven probiotic strains and delivers 5.75 billion organisms to support a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
This will lead to improved digestion, nutrient absorption, and a healthy immune system to keep you feeling your best all year long.
FOODS THAT PROMOTE HEALTHY BACTERIA GROWTH
We understand that probiotic supplements aren’t for everyone. If you’re looking for foods that promote healthy food bacteria growth, we’ve got you covered!
Here are the best foods to aid in the production of healthy gut bacteria:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TAKE PROBIOTICS?
We recommend that you take probiotics right before or with a meal.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR PROBIOTICS TO WORK?
Some people begin to notice improvements within just a few days. By week two of consistently taking your probiotic, you’ll likely start to experience improved digestion and regular bowel movements.
By weeks 4-6, you’ll begin to notice an improvement in your mood, weight loss, reduced inflammation, and other benefits we discussed earlier.
For best results, we always suggest pairing your probiotic with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP TAKING PROBIOTICS?
When you stop taking your probiotics, your gut bacteria composition will likely return to the state it was in before you started your probiotic supplementation within 1-3 weeks.