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Bacterial supplements: Beyond the belly

Dr. Steven Heidinger writes about probiotics
Wellness Column by Dr. Steven Heidinger

It is fair to say that when most people hear the word, “probiotics,” they likely think about something that is good for the digestive system. It is hard to argue the benefits that probiotics bring your intestinal system, but research is showing us that the health advantages bacterial supplements can offer go far beyond the digestive tract.

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria or microorganisms that one can receive through supplementation or from ingesting fermented foods. Most people assume correctly that a gut with a healthy population of good bacteria encourages proper digestion. For some, probiotic supplementation helps reduce symptoms of irritable bowel, like diarrhea or constipation.  

Here are a few other health benefits of probiotics that go beyond the bowels:

Blood Pressure. Human trials are showing that probiotic supplementation can reduce blood pressure. This is especially true for those with hypertension related to pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Blood Lipid Levels. Research has shown that probiotics can significantly lower total blood cholesterol levels. As blood lipids relate to overall cardiovascular health, healthy gut bacterial may play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy heart and arteries.

Blood Sugar Levels. Insulin resistance contributes to higher blood sugars. Probiotics have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity.
Arthritis. Probiotics help to reduce overall inflammation in the body. With less inflammation the better your joints will feel.

Obesity. Through improved metabolism of fat tissue, probiotics enable the body to better rid itself of adipose (fat cells), especially the fat that accumulates around the waist.

Fight the common cold. A healthier gut also means a healthier immune system. Improving gut flora positively affects the immunes cells need to fight off viruses and bad bacteria. 

Smarter and Happier. Improved moods, reduced anxiety, depression and stress, and improved cognitive function have all been related to bacterial supplementation. 

Nutrient Absorption. Vitamins and minerals do little good for the body when they just end up in the toilet. When the gut is healthy, it takes in more nutrients from the foods you eat.

Hippocrates is credited with saying, “All disease begins in the gut.”  If you are good to your gut, your gut will be good to the rest of you. Eat yogurt and prosper!