Hold your breath and eat up; here are 6 reasons why probiotics are good for you.
We’ve had our run-ins with that pungent, sour aroma – the unfortunate by-product of fermented goods. Kimchi, natto, cheese and sauerkraut are just some variations to this universal practice of preservation. They all contain a tiny yet powerful component called probiotics that does wonders for the body.
Also known as ‘good’ bacteria, they can be found in fermented foods, health supplements and digestive drinks such as Yakult and Vitagen. However, the bacteria is more than just for digestion. Its role in maintaining gut health has extensive effects on the body.
Here are six surprising benefits of probiotics. They may just convince you to start eating that smelly, sticky natto you never wanted to try.
1) Keep annoying colds at bay
According to a study from the British Journal of Nutrition, probiotics shorten the duration and reduce the severity of symptoms in common colds, such as sore throats and runny noses. This is because the bacteria helps to reduce inflammatory responses that kick in when the body’s immune system is under attack. In particular, the lactobacillus rhamnosus strain, which you can find in soft cheese, is especially effective at keeping those sniffles in check.
2) Stop frequent toilet trips
You might think that fermented foods would give you an upset stomach instead of preventing it, but research has shown that probiotics reduce the frequency of toilet trips in acute and chronic diarrhoea. Various strains of bacteria are helpful in doing so, such as lactobacillus casei, found in unpasteurised yogurts and the ever-familiar Yakult.
3) Reduce anxiety with probiotics
Those feeling down have a happy pill in probiotics. It eases anxiety and depression by helping to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. The bacteria is vital in the formation of neurochemicals and regulating stress hormone levels. A study done by Leiden University further discovered that adults who consumed it felt happier and recovered faster from sad thoughts.
4) Have glowing, flawless skin
Ever wondered how Koreans always seem to have perfect skin? Perhaps the secret is in their kimchi. Probiotics indirectly promote skin health through the management of neurochemical and stress hormone levels. This reduces inflammatory reactions, which is a main cause of acne and other skin diseases such as eczema. Aesthetics aside, Kefir, a form of fermented milk loaded with probiotics, is found to aid in wound healing when applied topically in gel form.
5) Picture perfect teeth
Here’s something to smile about the next time you open that jar of pickled cucumbers – probiotics promote oral health. Certain strains, such as lactobacillus brevis and reuteri, are found in sauerkraut and pickles. They help to keep gum diseases like gingivitis and tooth decay at bay.
6) Shed those extra pounds
Probiotics can give your weight loss plan a lift by altering your body’s metabolism. A study done by Laval University in Quebec found that along with a fitness regime and diet, those who took probiotics lost an additional four pounds as compared to those who took a placebo. The study’s authors said they made intestinal walls less permeable to absorbing harmful molecules linked to obesity.
What is your favourite source of probiotics? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.