What Are the Signs That a Probiotic Supplement is Working?
Keeping our bodies healthy is not easy in today's society since health tools are hard to acquire. Some are cost-prohibitive, while others are not understood enough to rely on for improved health. Even when we do find a health supplement, figuring out if it is working can be just as challenging as finding it was. The various factors of why a health supplement is needed and the underlying conditions complicate the process, but the right tools are available.
For most people, improving our health means acquiring pharmaceutical-grade medication to treat the symptoms and hopefully eliminate the condition. While this is effective for many, others prefer to use more natural tools to improve their health and give their body a chance to adapt.
One of the most common modern tools for this is probiotics, which have become extremely common in several markets. While many people have taken to using probiotics to improve their health, those who are curious might want more information. Even those actively using probiotics might struggle to figure out whether the product is working or if they have wasted time and money. There are few things as disappointing as realizing the product you have invested so much time and money into has failed. Therefore, current and prospective users need to know the signs that probiotics are working, if any exist.
What Are Probiotics?
If you are only recently investigating probiotic use, you might not be familiar with what they are, let alone how they improve health. The short answer is that probiotics are microorganisms, essentially bacteria, that are meant to be consumed. While you might recoil at the thought of willingly consuming bacteria, the key detail of probiotics is that they are beneficial.
Unlike the more common bacterial species, probiotics do not promote disease or infection and have become very popular for their health benefits. The more specific definition of probiotics comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), which says probiotics are "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."
While probiotics have seen a surge in popularity among modern consumers, they are not a new discovery. The first probiotic organism was discovered in 1905 by Stamen Grigorov, a Bulgarian physician and microbiologist. The species he discovered, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, set the foundation for the modern probiotic theory. The more modern theory was developed only 2 years later, in 1907, by Russian Nobel laureate Élie Metchnikoff who determined that the Bulgarian peasants who consumed large quantities of yogurt enjoyed longer lifespans.
The reason yogurt was the catalyst of Metchnikoff's theory is because probiotic organisms are commonly found in fermented dairy products. They can be found in other fermented foods, but fermented dairy, like yogurt, was a breeding ground for several Lactobacillus probiotic organisms. This is due to the concentration of lactic acid, fermenting bacteria, present in yogurt and other dairy products. Fortunately for our vegan and lactose-intolerant friends, probiotic organisms are not exclusive to dairy. However, Lactobacillus organisms are considered the best probiotics.
While knowing what probiotics are is an important first step, other questions must be answered. Namely, why people are so interested in consuming these microorganisms and what they do that resulted in Metchnikoff's observation.
What do Probiotics Do?
Aside from being interesting examples of microorganisms, probiotics are allegedly very healthy and can provide health benefits. This theory is the basis of Metchnikoff's claims built on his observations of the Bulgarian lower class. While Metchnikoff deduced that the Bulgarian peasants who consumed yogurt were living longer, a question lurks beneath that observation. How were the probiotics in the yogurt improving their health?
While science and medicine were not necessarily stuck in the dark ages at the time, there were still a lot of unknowns in 1907. Certain health issues had not been fully explored, and others were misunderstood or misattributed to the wrong details. As a result, the idea that probiotics were extending the peasants' lifespans was because the probiotics were treating undiagnosed or untreated health issues.
Modern research has begun evaluating probiotic supplements to determine what, if any, beneficial effects they produce. Fortunately, there seems to be significant evidence pointing to probiotics being a beneficial tool for certain aspects of human health. The most obvious benefit probiotics have been linked to is their ability to improve gastrointestinal health. Our intestinal tract is one of the most sensitive parts of our anatomy because it is technically a biome. Several important bacteria live in our stomachs that are essential to the proper function of our digestive tracts, among other things. When the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract fall out of balance, we experience digestive issues, allergies, obesity, and possible mental health problems.
What makes probiotics interesting is that they have been linked to an improved balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract. While there is still a little confusion about why, the best theory, it seems, is that the bacteria in our intestinal tract can synergize with probiotic organisms. This synergy allows the bacteria in our intestinal tract to recover to optimal levels, so the consequential health issues are not a problem. It has gotten to the point where some doctors will prescribe probiotics for patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal health issues.
This is further corroborated by other studies that have observed probiotic microorganisms counteracting antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Antibiotics are designed to eliminate bacteria but do not always discriminate between harmful and beneficial bacteria. As a result, many antibiotics list diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress among their side effects.
Introducing probiotics to your diet helps promote balance between the effects of the antibiotics and maintaining healthy levels of essential bacteria. Furthermore, probiotic consumption has led to reduced levels of Clostridiodiodes difficile bacteria. This bacterium is known for disrupting the natural bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have determined that consuming probiotics reduces the concentration of C. difficile by 60%.
The strains most commonly associated with reduced diarrhea are Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and Saccharomyces bouldarii. While the last one is found in yeast, the other 2 come from the same family as L. bulgaricus and are extremely effective. While these probiotics can address certain physical ailments, there are less tangible issues that probiotics can allegedly treat. There is limited evidence suggesting that probiotics might play a role in improving mental health, though this role cannot be used as a substitute for psychiatric care.
Nevertheless, some strains of probiotic bacteria can moderately alleviate the symptoms of certain mental health issues. A review of 13 studies consisting of tests with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains for 1 to 2 months showed some promising results. The studies indicated that these probiotic strands improved the mental health of patients suffering from anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and memory issues.
Another study involved 70 chemical workers who were admitted for a 6-week program to determine the benefits of probiotics. The workers in the test group were either given 100 grams of probiotic yogurt or a daily capsule to test the effects. The results showed benefits to their general health, depression, anxiety, and stress. There is a link between physical well-being and mental health since the less healthy your body is, the more it impacts your mind. Therefore, it can be surmised from these studies that the physical benefits of probiotics trigger a subsequent benefit that alleviates stressors that trigger certain mental health conditions.
How Do You Know it is Working?
Now we come to the question that brought you to this article. While probiotics are beneficial, they are not miracle workers and can be subtle. Generally, people prefer products that offer the quickest relief, but sometimes that is not an option, and probiotics can be fickle. As a result, those who employ probiotics to improve their health struggle to figure out if they are working.
The conditions probiotics help treat are not always readily apparent and come in waves, meaning you might not feel the symptoms on the day you take your probiotic. Despite that, the probiotics will likely have some effect on your condition, whether you realize it or not. Nevertheless, you likely want to know what to look out for to prove you are not wasting money on probiotics.
Unfortunately, there are no immediate signs the product is working, and you must be patient while your body absorbs the bacteria. Over time, however, you should start noticing changes in your physical and mental state that indicate the probiotic is taking hold. The most important sign that the probiotic is working is the reduction of symptoms for the condition that drove you to seek out a probiotic. When the symptoms affecting you have begun to fade, it is usually because the underlying cause is no longer as strong as it was originally.
There are other signs that a probiotic is working that affect other potential issues you might have been dealing with before. These include:
- Improved Bowel Movements: If you previously struggled with bowel movements in that they were irregular or loose, you might notice those issues have faded. This is one of the possible signs that your probiotic is working as intended due to its gastrointestinal effects.
- Less Bloating: There is an issue for some people where they experience bloating after a meal or due to other gastrointestinal distress. Generally, this effect worsens during the initial stages of probiotic use before fading and allowing your body to maintain a natural state.
- Improved Sleep: As odd as it might sound, the gastrointestinal distress you experience can impact your sleep quality and keep you awake. This is due to the gut-brain connection that ties your gastrointestinal tract to your brain. Thinking of eating can cause your stomach to release the corresponding juices due to that connection. Stabilizing your gastrointestinal tract means your stomach will no longer keep you awake.
- Reduced Pain: A common symptom of gastrointestinal distress is pain due to gas buildup, acidic imbalance, or digestive issues. Probiotics can stabilize these problems and reduce pain so you can function normally.
- Improved Mood: Another surprising sign is that successful probiotic use can elevate mood and memory. The gut produces serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters, but the production might be inhibited if your gastrointestinal health deteriorates. If the probiotic has stabilized this, you will notice your mental faculties have returned to a stronger state.
These signs indicate the probiotic is taking hold, but it is important to remember that these results are not instantaneous. On average, probiotics require 2 to 3 weeks for the benefits to manifest since your body needs to absorb and assimilate the bacteria. This is further extended by the fact your body will initially attempt to filter out certain bacteria until it recognizes the positive effects. Ultimately, probiotic use takes time and patience, but the results are extremely promising. The only real issue is finding a probiotic supplement you can trust that provides multiple important strains of probiotic bacteria.
Finding the Right Blend!
We have known about probiotics for 118 years thanks to Grigorov's research, but the modern use of probiotics is what created its popularity. Natural alternatives to medicinal intervention are an increasingly popular practice since most medications can be challenging to acquire. Unfortunately, you cannot trust just any probiotic you see since they must be manufactured carefully to avoid cross-contamination with harmful bacteria. If you want to enjoy the benefits of probiotics, you must find a product that has been produced with the utmost care.
We at Teami can help you with the goal since we are dedicated to providing natural supplements. We offer multiple products for multiple issues, and among our catalog is our Gut Love Probiotic + Prebiotic Powder. Our products provide several probiotic organisms from the Lactobacillus family, enabling prebiotic treatment to enhance results. Choosing a probiotic is difficult, but natural products optimized for maximum results are always a good investment. We encourage you to visit our website and assess the product for yourself before you decide. Regardless of your decision, remember that finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
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