The Benefits of Probiotics from Your Stomach to Your Skin

Probiotics have been pretty popular for a few years now, but the most amazing thing is that the deeper researchers dive into what is known as the “microbiome,” the more evidence they’re finding that bacteria that live in our stomachs affect much more than just our digestion.

Here are just a few of the ways probiotics, whether naturally-occurring or in supplement form, can impact your health for the better:

  1. Your digestion. Obviously, the bacteria in your stomach has the biggest impact on your overall digestive health. Recent research shows that your microbiome can improve your digestion, alleviate constipation, and can help you absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. Some data even shows that probiotics can help with digestive diseases like ulcerative colitis.
  2. Your skin. That’s right, research seems to show that things that live in your gut can impact things as far away as your skin and your hair. Many people taking probiotics have reported smoother and more hydrated skin and scalp.
  3. Your mood. Research on both animals and humans seems to show that probiotic supplements can improve some mental health disorders. One review of 15 human studies found supplementing with Bifido bacterium and Lactobacillus strains for 1–2 months can improve anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and memory.
  4. Heart health. Probiotics can help to lower bad cholesterol and also to lower your resting heart rate. The results are not earth-shattering, but studies did find that eating yogurt every day can lower bad cholesterol by about 5%.
  5. Your immune system. The bacteria in your gut can also help to keep the rest of you healthier. Several studies have been done on this area, including one that showed a significant decrease in the rates of respiratory infections in those taking probiotics.
  6. Weight loss. Eating more foods with probiotics can actually help you lose weight. This involves several mechanisms, including lowering the digestion rate of fat in your diet. In one study, dieting women who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus for 3 months lost 50% more weight than women who didn’t take a probiotic.

If you’re trying to incorporate more probiotics in your diet, you have two options: you can try to eat foods that are naturally rich in probiotics, or you can take a supplement. If you want to go the first route, your best bet is any food that’s fermented—yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, and some types of unpasteurized cheese. If you’d rather stick with a supplement, there are plenty of good options on the market, and many are available in grocery stores.

The most fascinating thing is that we seem to only be scratching the surface on probiotic research. We can’t wait to find out where the research will go next!