Good Cop/Bad Cop, Bacteria Style: How Probiotics Work And Why You Should Be Eating More Of Them

How Bugs Can Help You Feel Better And Be Healthier: Probiotics And The Benefits Of ‘Good Bacteria’

It would be hard to quantify just how much time, energy and money is spent in the U.S. and the rest of the world fighting against bacteria.

Anti-bacterial soap, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, sheets, underwear–the list goes on.

But not all bacteria is created equal. As a matter of fact, without bacteria we wouldn’t last too long; bacteria is what allows us to process our food and keep sour skin clean and free of disease. You could even go so far as to say we ARE bacteria, in a way: for every cell of your body that is you, there are ten bacteria cells on or in you.

What does that make us, exactly? Especially in light of our obsession with killing bacteria?

At any rate, you’ve probably heard of probiotics, they’re the ‘good bacteria’ that help keep the trains running on time in your gut–and you’re probably not eating enough of them. Here’s why.

• Decreases inflammation – You’ve no doubt heard of the importance of getting plenty of fiber in your diet. But did you know that the fact that we can process fiber at all is likely due to the presence of bacteria in our gut biome? When we eat fiber, our gut bacteria devour it, producing higher levels of a fatty acid called butyrate, which not only helps keep us regular, it reduces inflammation in the body.
• Weight control – Numerous studies have shown that overweight and obese people have bacteria imbalances in the gut. An example: one UK study showed that when overweight women were given probiotics, they lost more weight than those who were given a placebo.
• Healthy Skin – We’re finding more and more things are linked directly or indirectly to gut health. For example, psoriasis, eczema, acne and other skin conditions have been linked to inflammation, which is linked to our immune system. That, we now know, is in turn linked to the gut. One study showed that people with healthy immune systems will end up with different types of microbes living on their skin than those with healthy immune systems. Thus a healthy gut biome can make for healthy skin.
• Fends off depression – Another surprising recent study has been the revelation that the gut is in direct communication with the brain. Many are starting to believe that this connection may have far more to do with our cognitive health than we ever imagined. The important feel-good hormone serotonin is 95 percent produced stored in the gut.

So don’t worry, eat happy: by eating plenty of probiotics and keeping your gut health optimal, you can save yourself from a lot of other disease, systemic breakdowns, mental health issues, and a score of other potential problems.

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