When you think about probiotics, the first thing that comes to mind is probably gut health. After all, probiotics have a well-earned reputation for helping with constipation, gas and bloating by restoring healthy bacteria. But there’s so much more to these tiny live organisms. Read on to discover five facts you never knew.
Probiotics can boost your mood
What happens in your gut does not stay in your gut. According to Dr. Sara Celik, a naturopathic doctor, your gut can affect your mental health and your mental health can affect your gut thanks to the vagus nerve. Think of it like a two-way pathway that allows the gut and the brain to communicate. “When the gut is unbalanced and there aren’t enough protective bacteria, a person’s mental well-being may be affected,” says Dr. Celik. She recommends a probiotic that contains specific strains that have been clinically studied for mood and stress.
Renew Life® Ultimate Flora® Mood & Stress Probiotic contains the clinically studied probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 to help moderate feelings of anxiety and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort related to mild to moderate stress.
Probiotics are especially important for women
Probiotic supplements are often recommended to help increase vaginal Lactobacilli. That’s the dominant type of bacteria found in a woman’s body, and according to Dr. Celik, it helps maintain an acidic pH in the vagina that protects against infections.
Of the more than 500 different types of bacteria in the digestive system, the most prevalent in the vagina and urinary tract are lactic acid bacteria. The vaginal microbiota act as a barrier to infections such as yeast vaginitis and urinary tract infections. Taking a daily probiotic with bacterial strains that colonize the vaginal tract helps maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in women.
Renew Life® Ultimate Flora® VS contains seven different strains of Lactobacilli and two different strains of Bifidobacterium. This probiotic was formulated with a woman’s needs in mind.
You need to take them consistently
Probiotics aren’t a one-time fix that you only need to take during a course of antibiotics. “We are constantly losing bacteria (with every bowel movement, microbes are lost) and the microbiome can change within days,” says Dr. Celik. “In order to experience benefits from a probiotic supplement, they need to be taken every day.”
Not all probiotics are the same
“It’s important to identify ‘why’ you are taking a probiotic and from there, you can choose the best one to support your health goals,” says Dr. Celik. Different probiotics contain different strains of bacteria to address specific needs and health concerns.
For example, if you want to keep your gut healthy, look for a high-potency, multi-strain probiotic that has a delivery system such as an acid-resistant capsule. “This ensures bacteria actually make it to the intestines alive and don’t get killed off in the acidic stomach environment,” says Dr. Celik.
You can get some probiotics from your diet, but not all
Yogurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi provide beneficial bacteria but probiotic supplements typically provide a much higher dose, says Dr. Celik. Diversity is also important—in probiotics and diet. “I encourage my patients to take a multi-strain probiotic supplement that provides six or more strains of bacteria per capsule,” says Dr. Celik. Renew Life® Ultimate Flora® Critical Care Go Pack contains 50 billion bacteria from 12 strains to help support overall gut health.
“That being said, bacteria also need prebiotics to thrive and one of the best ways to ensure gut bugs are being fed is to eat a gut-friendly diet with adequate fibre.” If you’re worried about getting enough fibre in your diet, try a supplement like Renew Life® FibreSMART® 120, which provides additional digestive health support.