Other Benefits of Probiotics – Our Guts Control A Lot More In Our Bodies Than You May Realize
There are a lot of other benefits of probiotics outside of just “improving your gut health”. These other benefits of probiotics are much lesser known. This is because there is still a lot of research going on about the impact our gut has on the rest of our body. No, I don’t mean “gut” as in “beer belly”. When I say “gut”, I’m talking about your entire digestive system and the bacteria that live there.
James Park, Rph, PharmD at HB Pharmacy, shares some of this research in this latest episode. Click below to watch the video, or view a text version of the article below the video.
Other Benefits of Probiotics
Here’s a list of some of the benefits that James discusses in the above video. Again, these are POTENTIAL benefits of probiotics. Your gut does impact way more of our bodies than we realize, but scientists are still conducting research to confirm some of this information.
It can lower our “fast blood glucose level”
This refers to your blood sugar level after you haven’t eaten for about 8 hours. According to the Mayo Clinic, a fasting blood glucose level less than 100 mg/dL is considered normal.
It can help individuals under 60 years old with major depressive disorders
Your stomach is connected to something called the “parasympathetic nervous system”. This is sometimes referred to as your “rest and digest” system. It’s also connected to the “sympathetic nervous system”, or your “fight or flight” system. One shuts down your digestion, one keeps it going without you thinking about it. All of these nerves are connected to your brain. This is why you may experience indigestion when you’re feeling super stressed as internal AND external stressors can impact your digestion.
Your stomach is also connected to your “enteric nervous system”, which is also known as your “second brain”. It’s a nervous system localized to your stomach. Ever say, “I have a gut feeling about this”? Well, you may not have realized at the time, but “gut feelings” are a real thing! Same with “butterflies in your stomach” (except you don’t ACTUALLY have butterflies in there. Typically).
Ever hear about serotonin? It’s a hormone that’s a natural antidepressant and mood regulator in your brain. However, only 10% of serotonin is used in your brain. The other 90% impacts your stomach. Remember, “rest and digest”? Well, serotonin is a natural relaxant. That’s why you may feel calm after eating a full meal. However, if you take drugs that increase your serotonin level (Prozac or even Ecstasy, for example), you may experience diarrhea or nausea. They’re uppers for your brain, but downers for your stomach, and they impact your stomach more. Kinda cool, huh? So, that direct connection between your nervous system is why the health of your stomach can impact your mood. As I said, we need more information from scientists to confirm if simply taking a probiotic can directly improve your mood. This is one of the many other benefits of probiotics currently being researched, but the science behind the research (about your nervous system and gut) is sound.
For women, there is some limited evidence that a probiotic can help with urinary tract infection prevention and treatment as an adjunct therapy
Cool! So, now what?
Like I said, we need more research. However, these are some of the many cool things scientists are working on these days.
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