Probiotics don’t just benefit digestive health. Scientists have also discovered that the “good” bacteria found in fermented foods and supplements can aid weight loss and may help ward off colds, skin rashes, allergies, diabetes, and heart disease.
Most remarkably, the “good” bacteria found in fermented foods and supplements may also be powerful natural antidepressants, with effects akin to those of drugs like Prozac, according to groundbreaking new research.
How can these mighty microbes do so much? As I discuss in my bestselling book, The Omni Diet, probiotics boost the body’s natural defenses against disease, by stimulating the immune system. Many people don’t know that about 70 percent of immune cells live in the gut–and that each of us has a unique mix of GI bacteria as distinctive as a fingerprint.
Here’s a look at some of the latest discoveries about probiotics:
A study also found that college students who took daily probiotic supplements missed about half as many school days due to URIs and also had symptoms that were 34 percent less severe when they did catch colds. The researchers point out that such miseries as a stuffy nose and sore throat result from inflammatory responses that the protective microorganisms help quell.
Another study bears this out. Not only did allergy sufferers who took probiotic supplements have lower levels of inflammatory markers, but they also had a significant drop in hay fever symptoms in the second month of the study, compared to people who received a placebo.
Various blends of supplements contain different strains of microorganisms, so you may want to experiment to find the kind that works most successfully for you. It’s not uncommon to experience a week of such side effects as gas, bloating or diarrhea as the good bacteria shift your gut flora to a more balanced–and healthy–state.