6 Proven Health Benefits of Probiotics + Best Probiotic Foods
It might be hard to believe that bacteria could be good for our health; after all, we take antibiotics to fight bacterial infection. However, not all bacteria are harmful. The right bacteria in the right place can do wonders for your health. Exactly that is when probiotics come into the scenario.
What Are Probiotics?
Live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for our health, particularly for the digestive system, are known as probiotics. Our body is full of bacteria that belong to both “good” and “bad” categories. The ones that play a positive role in our bodily metabolism are called probiotics or, often, “helpful” bacteria.
Though the human body is a natural habitat to probiotics, there are many sources, like supplements and foods, to boost their presence. People first became aware of numerous advantages of probiotics in the mid-’90s.
Because of their effectiveness, doctors often prescribe them to help patients deal with chronic digestive problems. There are, however, many other health benefits of probiotics, which led to its inclusion in everything from chocolate to yogurt.
1. Probiotics Help Treat Diarrhea
As antibiotic intake indiscriminately kills both good and bad bacteria, diarrhea may occur as a side effect.
A recent study found that taking probiotics can reduce antibiotic-related diarrheas by 42%. 
They are also effective against non-antibiotic related diarrheas (57% in children and 26% in adults). 
2. Probiotics Can Be Useful In Certain Mental Health Conditions
Researchers have found that your mood or mental health is closely associated with gut health. In case of some mental health disorders, probiotics may be beneficial.
A series of 15 studies have found that probiotics can improve conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), autism, depression, and anxiety. 
Another study done on 70 chemical workers for six weeks has found signs of improvements regarding stress, anxiety, depression, and general health in those who took a probiotic capsule or 100 grams of probiotic yogurt on a daily basis. 
In an 8-week-long research conducted upon 40 patients suffering from depression, a decreased rate of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and insulin became visible. 
3. Some Probiotic Strains Are Good For Your Heart
Probiotics effectively cut the amount of LDL or bad cholesterol in your body and, therefore, keep your heart-healthy. Moreover, there is some lactic acid generating bacteria which can break down bile in the gut. As a result, it reduces cholesterol and helps in digestion.
Consuming probiotic yogurt over a span of 2-8 weeks reduced LDL cholesterol by 5%, found a review of 5 recent studies. 
Another review of 9 studies has shown a correlation between probiotic supplement intake and a drop in blood pressure. 
4. Probiotics Are Effective In Treating Certain Eczema And Allergies
A study found that children of mothers who consumed probiotic-rich milk during pregnancy are 83% less likely to develop eczema after first two years of their birth. 
However, the link between reduced risk of allergies or eczema and probiotics are yet to be concretely established.
5. Probiotics May Make Your Immune System Stronger
Some probiotics boost the production of natural antibodies, immune cells like T lymphocytes, and the IgA-producing cells.
A study involving 570 children showed that consuming Lactobacillus GG decreased the chance of respiratory infections by 17%. 
Lactobacillus GG also appeared to have been effective in reducing the risk of Urinary Tract infections by 50%. 
6. Probiotics And Weight Loss
Some probiotics prevent intestine from absorbing dietary fats which are later excreted through feces. They also help the body burn calories and make you feel fuller over a longer period.
According to a study completed on a group of dieting women, those who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus for three months appeared to have lost 50% more weight than the rest. 
However, not all probiotics will help you lose weight. On the contrary, probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus are responsible for weight gain.
Top Probiotic Killers
There are some elements that reduce the number of probiotics in the body. We need to be careful about them, and, if possible, should avoid them as much as possible.
The meaning of the word antibiotics is “anti-life”. So you should not take antibiotics unless it is prescribed by your physician. Even one dose of antibiotics is capable of changing your gut microbiome for good.
2. Bad Diet
Gluten, GMO foods, sugar are counterproductive for probiotics.
3. Tap Water
Excessive presence of fluoride and chlorine in tap water has a devastating effect on the probiotic balance in the body.
Emotional stress takes a huge toll on the probiotics, and the gut feels the burnt.
How to benefit from probiotics
There are different sources of probiotics which can meet your need. For instance, milk drinks, yogurts, and other dairy products are a good source of live probiotics.
Fermented items like sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kimchi, tempeh, kefir, miso, and soy products are rich in lactic bacteria.
In addition to these sources, you can also take tablets, powders, and capsules supplements containing probiotic. We can recommend Dr. Mercola’s probiotic supplements.
To get the most out of your consumption, you have to take sufficient amount of probiotics – ideally 1-100 billion colony-forming units (CFU) on a daily basis. 
Top Probiotic Foods
If you want to ensure a daily dose of healthy bacteria for your body, live-cultured yogurt is the way to go. However, instead of buying commercial yogurts, which are high on artificial flavors, fructose, and sweetener, you should prepare your own. At the very least, buy plain organic yogurt.
It is a kind of fermented drink that contains bacteria and yeast to boost digestive system. Rice, soy, coconut, and dairy milk are the main ingredients of Kefir.
As you drink Kefir regularly, stomach-friendly bacteria increase in your intestine.
Made from barley, rye, rice, or beans, Miso is left to ferment for three months to 3 years. The paste is widely used in Asia for cooking and medicinal purposes. It is also known for restoring essential probiotics to the intestines.
A common ingredient in European cuisine, Sauerkraut is prepared by fermenting vegetables, like cabbage. It is however recommended to prepare your own Sauerkraut at home, to avoid losing beneficial bacteria due to pasteurization.
5. Raw cheese
Cheese is made using the pressed curd of plant-based or dairy milk.
The solid probiotic food is an excellent source of vitamins, protein, and calcium. The best varieties of probiotic cheese are cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, blue cheese, and ricotta.