Bacteria as Allies: Exploring the Long List of Probiotic Benefits

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Probiotics, are the beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive system. They have been gaining attention for their remarkable role in maintaining gut health. These tiny warriors contribute to everything from nutrient absorption to defending against harmful pathogens. Probiotic supplements have become an easy way to ensure that this essential part of our digestive ecology stays balanced.

This article delves into the fascinating topic of probiotics, exploring their benefits, how they function within the gut, and how supplementing with probiotics can support overall digestive well-being. Whether you’re new to probiotics or looking to deepen your understanding, this comprehensive guide offers insights into one of the body’s most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of health.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are believed to enhance well-being. Lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and Saccharomyces boulardii are the most frequently used types. Beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms are naturally present in our bodies and help in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and competing with harmful organisms that may trigger illnesses. Probiotics are commonly consumed as supplements or can be found in probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, fresh saurkraut, and fermented pickles. They are employed to alleviate a variety of ailments, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and others. Not all probiotics have the same effects, and certain probiotics or combinations may be beneficial for certain conditions while others may not. [PMC3864899]

What Are The Health Benefits of Probiotics?

The benefits of probiotics can vary depending on the specific strain and individual needs, and they offer a natural way to support various aspects of health. Specific strains of probiotics are shown to have different effects. Refer to the Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products Available in USA for details.

  • Digestive Balance: Probiotics are essential for maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. They actively support the digestive process by breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. This can lead to better overall digestion and can reduce common issues like bloating, gas, and indigestion. These benefits are especially helpful for those with sensitive digestive systems or those recovering from illnesses that may have disrupted their natural gut flora.
    • Lactose Digestion: For those with lactose intolerance, probiotics can make dairy consumption more manageable. They assist in breaking down lactose, easing symptoms like bloating and diarrhea. This provides an opportunity for individuals to enjoy dairy products with less discomfort, fostering a more varied and enjoyable diet.
    • Heartburn (GERD): Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that can help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora, may reduce symptoms of GERD, and promote overall digestive health. A review found that probiotics may help ease symptoms of GERD like heartburn and regurgitation. A review study found that, ”79% reported positive benefits of probiotics on symptoms of GERD.” [PMC7019778]
  • Immune Support: About 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, and probiotics play a vital role in supporting and boosting the body’s defenses. They enhance the immune system’s ability to fend off infections and may reduce the likelihood of autoimmune reactions.
    • Prevention of Autoimmunity: The integrity of the gut barrier is essential for keeping out pathogens, and probiotics help maintain this barrier, reducing the risk of harmful invaders entering the bloodstream. [PMID: 34551690]
    • Reduced Symptoms of Allergies: Probiotics may act as a natural antihistamine, reducing the severity of allergy symptoms. They modulate the immune response to allergens, helping to control reactions like sneezing and itching. This can be particularly beneficial during allergy seasons, providing natural support without the side effects of medications.
  • Improved Gut Health: For those dealing with chronic gut issues like IBS and IBD, probiotics may be a part of the solution. They work to reduce inflammation within the gut, ease symptoms like cramping and constipation, and promote an overall healthier gut environment. By encouraging a more harmonious digestive system, they help foster a stronger gut lining, enhancing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and reduce discomfort.
    • Reduced Diarrhea: When an individual is battling diarrhea due to infections or antibiotic use, probiotics can be a gentle and effective way to restore balance. They help replenish the gut with beneficial bacteria lost during illness or medication, reducing the duration and intensity of diarrhea symptoms. This makes probiotics an essential supportive care option for gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Mental Health Connection: The gut-brain axis is a complex communication network that links the gastrointestinal tract with the brain. Probiotics may help regulate mood and emotions by supporting this connection. They encourage the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which plays a significant role in mood regulation. The inclusion of probiotics in the diet may help alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety. [PMC7915600]
    • Anxiety and Stress: Researchers who reviewed the literature found that studies “suggest that probiotics may improve psychological symptoms associated particularly with anxiety.” [PMID: 32176751]
    • Addiction: Lactobacillus rhamnosus Strains are being studied for their possible usefulness in treating depression related to addiction withdrawal. Therapeutic Anti-Depressant Potential of Microbial GABA Produced by Lactobacillus rhamnosus Strains for GABAergic Signaling Restoration and Inhibition of Addiction-Induced HPA Axis Hyperactivity [PMC9164062]
  • Weight Management: Emerging research suggests that gut health and weight management are closely connected. Probiotics may influence the way the body metabolizes food, stores fat, and burns calories. While more studies are needed to fully understand this relationship, incorporating probiotics may be a promising approach to support healthy weight regulation.
  • Skin Health: The skin, like the gut, harbors a complex ecosystem of bacteria. Probiotics may help balance this ecosystem, reducing inflammation and symptoms of skin conditions like eczema and acne. They may also enhance skin’s natural hydration and elasticity, promoting a more youthful and vibrant appearance.
  • Better Oral Health: The mouth is another area where beneficial bacteria play a crucial role. Probiotics may reduce harmful bacteria that cause oral infections, cavities, and gum disease. They can also help combat bad breath and promote healthier teeth and gums.
  • Heart Health: Heart health can be positively influenced by probiotics through the potential lowering of bad LDL cholesterol and regulation of blood pressure. They may help break down bile in the gut, preventing it from being reabsorbed into the blood as cholesterol. This natural support can be a valuable part of maintaining heart health and promoting better circulation.

Overall, probiotics present a natural and comprehensive approach to health that goes far beyond the gut. Their many benefits touch on essential aspects of well-being, reflecting the complex and interconnected nature of the human body. From improving digestion to supporting mental wellness and even heart health, probiotics offer a broad spectrum of health-enhancing possibilities.

Are Probiotic Supplements Safe?

Probiotics are considered safe for most people. They help maintain the balance of the gut microbiota and support overall digestive health. People have always consumed probiotics through fermented foods.

However, certain individuals might be at increased risk from probiotics. Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatments, organ transplant recipients, or those with HIV/AIDS, may experience negative effects from probiotics. In these cases, the live bacteria or yeasts present in probiotics could lead to infections or other complications. Additionally, people with short bowel syndrome or central venous catheters are at a higher risk for developing infections from probiotics. Some studies have also shown that critically ill patients should avoid probiotic use, as it may increase the risk of complications or adverse effects.

Medication Interactions with Probiotics

Antibiotic drugs: Always take prescribed antibiotics or antifungal medications at a separate time of day from when you are taking probiotics. Taking antibiotics along with probiotics can reduce the effects of the probiotics. Most probiotics are friendly bacteria. To avoid this interaction, take probiotic products at least 2 hours before or after antibiotics.

Probiotic Products


Zenbiome Dual-For GI Discomfort and Stress

Zenbiome Dual–Microbiome Labs

ZenbiomeTM DUAL is a dual-action probiotic combination designed to support both digestive comfort and mood self-regulation. This unique, holistic solution targets the gut-brain axis and is clinically demonstrated to support the relief of occasional gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort and its associated psychological stress. Powered by two innovative probiotic strains, ZenbiomeTM DUAL provides around-the-clock digestive maintenance, supporting optimal gut health and overall well-being.** Suggested Use: Take 2 capsules daily with a meal, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.

Amount Per 2 Capsule Serving
Proprietary Probiotic Blend
 … 97.5 mg
*At time of manufacturing … 10 Billion CFU*
Bifidobacterium longum 1714™ [PMC6615936][PMC8474585]
Bifidobacterium longum 35624  ® [IBS PMC8891724] [PMC6315752]


Probiotic-Pro12

The microbial ecosystem in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has emerged as a “virtual organ system,” with growing recognition of its diverse significance in health maintenance.*1 GI microbiota help support and maintain healthy innate and cell-mediated immune systems.2* They also help maintain the integrity of a healthy intestinal barrier by helping detoxify the body’s natural toxins and organizing the body’s response to cellular debris.*3 In addition to helping in the maintenance of gastrointestinal health, it may also help support a healthy body weight and normal glucose metabolism already within the normal range

Suggested Use:
Take 1 capsule 3 times per day on a full stomach or as directed by a health care professional. Children can take at half adult dose if able to swallow capsules or simply open the capsule contents and sprinkle onto food or mix with juice, smoothie or other liquids.

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving:
Proprietary Probiotic Blend
 … 12 billion CFU
Lactobacillus casei … 3 billion CFU
Lactobacillus rhamnosus … 1.4 billion CFU
Lactobacillus acidophilus … 1.2 billion CFU
Lactobacillus plantarum … 1.2 billion CFU
Lactobacillus rhamnosus (bifidus) … 1.2 billion CFU
Bifidobacterium breve … 1.2 billion CFU
Bifidobacterium longum … 1.2 billion CFU
Bifidobacterium bifidum … 0.6 billion CFU
Lactobacillus lactis … 0.6 billion CFU
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus … 0.1 billion CFU
Lactobacillus helveticus … 0.1 billion CFU
Lactobacillus salivarius … 0.1 billion CFU


Metabolic Daily- For Glucose Control And Healthy GI

Metabolic Daily by Pendulum

300 million AFU Per Dose

Containing live Akkermansia, Metabolic Daily optimizes metabolism to help break down fiber, sugar, and carbohydrates. Suggested Use: Adults take 1 capsule per day with food.

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving
Probiotic Blend … 30mg (300 million AFU)
Bifidobacterium infantis
Clostridium butyricum WB-STR-0006
Clostridium beijerinckii WB-STR-0005
Anaerobutyricum hallii WB-STR-0008
Akkermansia muciniphila WB-STR-0001


Oral Probiotic

Many people don’t realize how gum disease contributes to inflammation and heart disease. When the gums are inflamed, bacteria can enter the bloodstream, leading to the buildup of arterial plaque. This can narrow the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. The connection between oral health and heart health underscores the importance of good dental hygiene.


FLORASSIST® Oral Hygiene by Life Extension

The ingredients in FLORASSIST® Oral Hygiene probiotic lozenges help inhibit undesirable bacteria in the mouth and support optimal oral health and more.

What Is FLORASSIST Oral Hygiene?
FLORASSIST® Oral Hygiene is an innovative probiotic lozenge that combines the healthy probiotics BLIS M18™ and Immuno-LP20®. These ingredients promote healthy microbial balance and healthy immune function and support optimal oral health.

This innovative probiotic lozenge complements any oral care program to help support healthy teeth and gums.
-FLORASSIST® Oral Hygiene Benefits
-Encourages healthy immune response
-Helps inhibit inflammation to support oral health
-Contains a clinically studied probiotic strain and a heat-treated bacteria with verified oral health benefits

Suggested Use:
Dissolve one (1) lozenge in mouth daily, or as recommended by a healthcare practitioner.

Amount Per 1 vegetarian lozenge Serving 
BLIS M18™ S. salivarius M18 … 10mg
(providing 1 billion CFU†)
Immuni-LP20® (HT§ L. plantarum L-137)


Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that support the digestive system. They help maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut, which is crucial for digestion and overall wellness. By strengthening the natural barrier in the intestines, probiotics guard against harmful toxins and pathogens, keeping them from entering the body. They also assist in keeping the digestive lining healthy and can aid in reducing symptoms of digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Overall, probiotic supplements offer a convenient way to support digestive health and contribute to the body’s natural defenses.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


About the Author

Stephanie Figon, MS, RDN, LD

Creator of Supplement Sciences and NutriScape.NET. As a dietitian since 1992, Steph has had experiences in consulting, 15 years in clinical, and has operated a private practice nutrition counseling office for since 2011. Log in to comment and save this article on your board or send your comments to reviews@supplement-sciences.com

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