Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Probiotics are live microbes that, when taken, have health advantages. These are often bacteria; however, yeasts can also be used as probiotics. Viruses, fungi, archaea, and helminths are among the other microorganisms being studied in the gut.
Bacteria are often thought of as disease-causing pathogens. However, there are two types of bacteria in and on your body: good bacteria and bad bacteria. Probiotics are good bacteria that help the body stay healthy and run smoothly.
How Long Do Probiotics Stay In Your Body?
Probiotics do not stay for long in the digestive tract. This is why taking probiotics regularly is crucial. In your gut, your immune system allows a variety of bacteria to thrive.
The duration of a probiotic’s action and persistence in your system is determined by the probiotic you take. Although the microorganisms from a probiotic supplement may settle in your gut, their effects fade off in a few weeks of stopping their use. As per a study titled “A review of probiotic supplementation in healthy adults: helpful or hype?” published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,’ the effects of probiotics wane off in just 1-3 weeks of stopping use.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are fibers that the human body is unable to digest. Prebiotics do not add any new bacteria to your gut flora. Instead, they serve as food for the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, improving your overall gut health. Prebiotics, rather than probiotics, are the way to go if you want to see significant improvements. Any foreign bacteria that you introduce into your gut are usually killed by your immune system as soon as they enter.
Health Benefits Of Probiotics
The two major ways through which probiotics act are:
- Enhancing the gut microbiome’s health.
- Boosting the immune system by restoring microbiome balance after an illness or therapy.
Here are some conditions in which probiotics might help you stay healthy.
In both adults and children, taking probiotics by mouth, particularly Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii, appears to minimize the incidence of diarrhea caused by antibiotics. As per a study titled “Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Outpatients—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” published in the journal ‘Antibiotics,’ the use of probiotics helps manage antibiotic-induced diarrhea.
- Stomach Pain:
Children’s stomach ache appears to be reduced by taking lactobacillus probiotics by mouth. It’s unclear whether or not other probiotic species are beneficial.
Taking a specific probiotic strain by mouth (L. rhamnosus GG) appears to help babies avoid allergic responses. Other probiotic supplements don’t seem to be as effective.
- Gastrointestinal Tract Infections:
Clostridium difficile infection is a bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract. In certain high-risk adults, taking probiotics may lessen the chances of getting an infection for the first time. In some people who have already had this infection, taking Saccharomyces boulardii probiotics may minimize their chances of having it again.
- Infantile Colic:
Giving infants lactobacillus (L. reuteri) appears to reduce the amount of time they cry when they have colic.
Probiotics taken orally appear to aid adults with constipation, but not in children.
- Improves Brain Function:
Taking probiotics by mouth can improve the cognitive function of people with severe liver disease.
- High Cholesterol Levels:
In some persons with high cholesterol, taking probiotics containing lactobacillus appears to help decrease cholesterol.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS):
IBS is a long-term large intestine condition that induces severe stomach pain, diarrhea, cramping, and bloating. In patients with IBS, taking probiotics seems to help with the above symptoms.
- Necrotizing Enterocolitis(NEC):
NEC is a dangerous illness in which the intestinal tissue dies. It mostly affects premature babies. As per a study titled “A meta-analysis of probiotics for preventing necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm neonates” published in the journal Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, preterm infants who are given probiotics by mouth appear to have a lower risk of acquiring this illness.
- Otitis Media:
It is a kind of ear infection. Taking a probiotic by mouth appears to help toddlers avoid ear infections.
- Pouchitis Post Ulcerative Colitis surgery:
Taking probiotics with lactobacillus and bifidobacteria by mouth appears to assist some patients with pouchitis.
- Infection of the Respiratory Tract:
In children and adults, taking probiotics by mouth may lessen the risk of acquiring an airway infection.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA):
Probiotics can improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Mental Health:
As per a study titled “Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review” published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, probiotic supplements can improve some mental health disorders.
- Help in Weight Loss:
Probiotics can make you feel full after a small meal, helping reduce the amount of food ingested. This can aid in weight reduction, in the long run, provided other essential nutritional supplements are taken.
Food Sources Of Probiotics
- Soft cheese
- Soy-based products, such as miso, tempeh, and some soy beverages
- Unpasteurized sauerkraut
- nutrition bars
- Fruit Juice
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that may help to improve the gut microbiome’s health. They can be found in some meals as well as supplements.
Before taking supplements or increasing your probiotic intake, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe.
Blaabjerg, S., Artzi, D. M., & Aabenhus, R. (2017). Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Outpatients-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Antibiotics (Basel, Switzerland), 6(4), 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics6040021.
Khalesi, S. (2018, March 26). A review of probiotic supplementation in healthy adults: helpful or hype? Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-018-0135-9?error=cookies_not_supported&code=5d70ab8f-18b5-4d96-8f93-d098219f68f3.
Wang, H., Lee, I. S., Braun, C., & Enck, P. (2016). Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility, 22(4), 589–605. https://doi.org/10.5056/jnm16018.
What Are Prebiotics? (2019, August 5). WebMD. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/prebiotics-overview#:%7E:text=Prebiotics%20are%20a%20source%20of,good%20for%20your%20digestive%20system.
Yang, Y., Guo, Y., Kan, Q., Zhou, X. G., Zhou, X. Y., & Li, Y. (2014). A meta-analysis of probiotics for preventing necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm neonates. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas, 47(9), 804–810. https://doi.org/10.1590/1414-431×20143857.