Maintaining good gut health is crucial for overall well-being. Our gut health affects our health in many ways including our digestion, immune system, mental health, and skin health.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as constipation, acne, insomnia, abdominal pain gas bloating, and, many more these may be signs you need probiotics.
They help balance the good and bad bacteria in our gut, leading to better digestion, nutrient absorption, and enhanced immune function.
In this post, we will explore the top signs that indicate you may need probiotics for your gut health, and how probiotics benefit our overall health and well-being.
- Bloating, gas, and digestive discomfort may indicate the need for probiotic supplementation.
- Irregular bowel movements and constipation could be a sign of gut imbalance that probiotics may regulate.
- Probiotics can improve our immune system and reduce the occurrence of frequent illnesses.
- Probiotics can help alleviate mental health issues and mood disorders.
- Probiotics can enhance skin health and reduce various skin conditions.
Understanding Gut Health
Gut health plays a significant role in the overall well-being of an individual. It has been said that if your gut is unhealthy, you are unhealthy.
Gut health affects everything as far as your health is concerned.
One of the most important components of your gut is the gut bacteria or the microbiome.
The gut houses a diverse population of microorganisms that aid in nutrient absorption, regulation of digestive functions, and an array of metabolic processes.
Gut bacteria are involved in the production of some B vitamins, vitamin K, and immune factors and the production of certain neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin.
However, inflammation or leaky gut can interfere with the normal functioning of the gut, leading to an unbalanced gut microbiome, which in turn can suppress the immune system or cause a disordered immune system.
Several factors can affect gut health, including a diet low in fiber and high in processed foods, stress, disordered sleep, and the use of certain medications.
Thus, it’s important to maintain a healthy gut to prevent and manage various health conditions.
The immune system relies heavily on gut health, with 70% residing in the gut lining.
Having a healthy gut microbiome with beneficial gut bacteria can improve immunity and reduce the risk of infections.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms such as good bacteria that provide many health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts.
When you consume healthy whole foods these provide fiber and other material or prebiotics to feed good bacteria in the gut leading to an abundance of diverse good gut flora.
The Role of Gut Health
Our digestive system contains a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria that perform essential functions such as breaking down food and protecting the gut lining.
When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to inflammation, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for overall well-being, and probiotic supplementation is an excellent way to support gut health.
Signs you need probiotics
Given that the gut affects many systems in your body when the gut microbiome or gut flora is disrupted, signs you need probiotics may be evident.
Here are some signs and symptoms that might indicate you need probiotics:
1. Irregular Bowel Movements and Constipation
According to the Mayo Clinic, constipation means passing less than 3 stools a week or having difficulty passing stool.
If you often experience irregular bowel movements or constipation, it may signify an imbalanced gut environment.
Constipation is a common problem among many people, and it can lead to various serious problems liek diverticulosis and diverticulitis.
Constipation can occur due to lack of fiber, not drinking enough fluids, medicines, and medical conditions and not consuming enough probiotics, probiotics foods, or prebiotics.
So make sure to learn the cause of your constipation especially if it’s chronic, and see your doctor first.
Probiotic supplementation can regulate bowel movements and promote better gut health, reducing the occurrence of digestive problems.
Probiotics can restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut, which can help alleviate constipation and diarrhea.
In addition, probiotics can aid in the absorption of nutrients in the digestive system, improving overall gut health and reducing discomfort.
Research published in Molecules shows that the use of probiotics can “regulate fecal microbiota, increase levels of organic acids to promote intestinal peristalsis, shorten colon operation time, and lessen symptoms of constipation.”
So eating healthy foods rich in probiotics helps resolve constipation. If you are not eating enough of these foods, a supplement probiotic would be helpful.
If diarrhea is severe or in small children, the elderly, or people with a weakened immune system, seek medical care.
Dehydration can easily overwhelm the patient and therefore medical care and monitored hydration are necessary. In many cases, a probiotic may also be prescribed.
If it is mild diarrhea, supplementing at home with probiotics and probiotic foods can help. Of course, adequate hydration is necessary. But first, what causes diarrhea? typically, a pathogen or germ infects the gut or intestines.
Probiotics can contribute to a balanced gut microbiota and may help regulate bowel movements.
3. Antibiotic Use
Antibiotics aim to kill the bad bacteria causing illness. However, in many cases, the medication administered is a broadspectrum type of antibiotic that kills many bacteria including the good ones.
If too many good bacteria are killed, an imbalance occurs between the good guys and the bad.
And the bad guys take over causing conditions such as C diff which causes profuse diarrhea for a long time.
Probiotics can help replenish beneficial bacteria during and after antibiotic treatment. You can eat a good quality yogurt with live probiotics.
Stay away from sugar-filled yogurts like the ones with fruit at the bottom. Bad bacteria love sugar and you want to starve them, not feed them.
4. Reoccurring vaginal infections
This a clear sign you have a gut bacterial imbalance or have vaginal infections on the regular. These infections are pretty unpleasant.
Infections such as yeast infections or thrush thrive when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the gut outnumbering the good bacteria.
This can happen when you have too much sugar in your diet or heavy in carn diet feeding the yeast, which loves sugar.
So if you have such an infection? See a doctor for treatment and then work on improving your diet.
Eat gut-friendly prebiotic and probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi kefir, and many other fermented foods.
Add a good quality probiotic to your diet as well.
Eventually, you will have a balanced microbiome and keep the yeast and other bad microorganisms in check.
5. Food Intolerances
Food intolerance and allergies have been on the rise in recent years. Allergic intolerances such as lactose intolerance can be improved with probiotics. Probiotics can aid in digesting certain substances.
Research shows that having diverse gut bacteria can intervene and help prevent food allergies. Certain bacteria and their by-products are associated with allergies according to research.
Probiotics help improve the diversity of gut microbiota which then helps to modulate the immune response of the host (human), which improves allergic responses.
6. Weak Immune System
Having a strong immune system is important in resisting, and overcoming infections.
One of the most important ways of having a strong immune system is in what you eat because that affects the diversity of your gut bacteria and other microorganisms.
If you experience frequent infections or have a weakened immune system, probiotics may help support immune function by promoting a healthy gut environment.
The gut is home to a large and complex community of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that are together referred to as the microbiome.
This community coexists with the host in a kind of symbiotic relationship.
So healthy bacteria provide various benefits to the host including digestion, production of nutrients, detoxifications, protection from pathogens, and immune system regulation(source)
70-8- percent of the immune cells are present in the gut and there exists an intricate relationship between the gut microbes and immune-modulating cells that line the intestinal tract or the mucosa.
Furthermore, research shows that the microbiota also affects the systemic immune system in the body.
A strong immune system is crucial for fighting off viral and bacterial infections.
When the immune system is weakened, we become more susceptible to illness and infection.
Probiotic supplements can help improve gut health, which in turn strengthens the immune system. Probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can combat bad bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
Studies have also shown that probiotics can decrease the duration and severity of respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu.
By maintaining a healthy gut with probiotic supplementation, you can support your immune system and reduce the frequency of illness.
7. Gut issues
Do you often experience bloating, gas, digestive discomfort, and abdominal pain? If so, it could be a sign of poor gut health.
Bloating occurs due to excess gas in the stomach or intestine, whereas gas results from the breakdown of food in the digestive system.
Digestive discomfort can manifest itself in several ways, including nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Fortunately, probiotic supplementation can help alleviate these symptoms by promoting a healthier digestive system.
Probiotics introduce friendly bacteria into the gut that can restore the balance of gut bacteria and reduce inflammation.
These beneficial bacteria can break down food more efficiently, reducing the occurrence of bloating and gas.
Furthermore, probiotics have been shown to benefit individuals with digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
This is a big sign that you need probiotics.
The good bacteria in your gut help you to break down food and then the nutrients are absorbed and transferred through the blood streams and cells to where they are needed.
But when you have too many bad bacteria, they produce bad gases and other toxins leading to discomfort and bloating.
8. Chronic Fatigue or Low Energy
Chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis is a condition that causes extreme fatigue and sleep problems.
You feel tired all the time, and yet when it comes time to sleep you have trouble falling asleep.
The cause of chronic fatigue is not completely understood.
However, a 2021 study in Molecular Psychiatry found there is an association between gut dysbiosis or lack of gut bacterial diversity and leaky gut to chronic fatigue and severe mental health issues such as depression and schizophrenia.
According to the research referenced above, people who had more inflammatory markers also had increased fatigue and mental health problems.
Per the study, when a leaky gut occurs, bacteria and their toxins (endotoxemia) enter the bloodstream causing systemic inflammation.
So it’s no surprise that a 2021 research in the journal Molecules found that probiotic supplementation improved chronic fatigue.
The best way to replenish your gut bacteria is to ensure you are eating enough variety of whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.
However, adding a good probiotic can help you balance your gut bacteria and increase the level of beneficial bacteria.
9. Weight Management and Metabolic Health
Maintaining a healthy weight and good metabolic health is significant for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Weight loss is a difficult and often frustrating process, but research suggests that gut health can play an essential role in achieving sustainable weight loss.
Poor gut health has been linked to a range of metabolic conditions and can contribute to weight gain, making it harder to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight over time.
Studies have shown that probiotic supplementation can aid in weight loss by supporting a healthier bacterial balance in your gut.
If you seem to be gaining weight and have trouble losing weight, a probiotic in addition to diet and exercise may help.
Research shows that overweight and obese people have different gut bacteria. The type of gut bacteria you have determines their ability to extract energy from the food you eat and turn it into nutrients for you or for the bacteria living in your gut.
According to research, less bacterial diversity was associated with obesity.
A 2019 research study on Nutrients shows that probiotic supplementation with certain bacteria strains such as lactobacillus improved weight loss.
Additionally, inflammation and obesity go hand in hand.
When the gut is inflammed leading to leaky gut and systemic inflammation metabolic syndrome and weight gain ensue leading to conditons such as type 2 diabetes and others.
A probiotic can populate the gut with healthy bacteria to calm this inflammation.
Gut flora, also known as gut microbiota, is crucial in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Disruptions to this balance have been linked to obesity and other metabolic conditions.
Modifying the gut’s microbial composition via probiotic supplementation can aid in preventing and managing these conditions.
If you experience sleeplessness, this may be an indication you need a probiotic or a more diverse and healthy gut flora.
One of the most common causes of insomnia is stress. Apart from lacking sleep due to stress, stress especially chronic stress also leads to gut dysbiosis, or an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria. Research shows supplementing with the probiotic lactobacillus can be effective on insomnia.
And GABA which is produced by gut bacteria influences the central nervous system through the vagus nerve and affects sleep.
Lactobacillus is one the major GABA-producing bacterium in the gut.
Read more about the gut microbiome, probiotics, and sleep connection here.
11. Mental Health and Mood Disorders
There is emerging research suggesting a connection between the gut and brain health.
Probiotics may have a role in supporting mental well-being and reducing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
It’s common knowledge that our emotions affect our gut health.
But, did you know that the inverse is also true? Our gut health can significantly impact our mental well-being.
This is because beneficial bacteria in the gut create a connection between our gut and brain.
This link is known as the gut-brain axis. When our gut microbes are out of balance, it can affect our neurotransmitter levels, leading to mood disorders.
Research shows that diet, stress, or exposure to antibiotics can disturb the microbiome leading to dysbiosis and a leaky gut.
And this increased gut permeability per research leads to conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes, anxiety, asthma, depression, and even autism.
Additionally, inflammation in the gut causes the release of certain molecules to increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier enhancing the effect of bad molecules from the leaking gut affecting brain function.
This then leads to anxiety, depression, and memory loss (source).
Recent studies have shown that taking probiotic supplements can help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms and improve overall mood.
Researchers found that probiotics improved HPA function and that probiotics provided a “neuroprotective role in preventing stress-induced synaptic dysfunction between neurons in as little as two weeks of probiotics treatment leading to decreased ACTH and corticosterone levels in animal studies( source).
Administering probiotics to subjects for three weeks was also found to reduce self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression in the same study.
Interestingly, other studies found that probiotics reduce depressive symptoms as well as the drug diazepam and citalopram.
And in animal studies, probiotics were more effective than Escitalopram in reducing depression and anxiety.
According to the study above, the bacterium Bifidobacterium Infatis increased, tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, and increased GABA.
Probiotic supplementation can increase good bacteria levels, improving gut health and positively impacting mental wellness.
As well as supplementing with probiotics, incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet, such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, can also have a positive effect on mental health.
If you’re experiencing mood disorders, probiotic supplementation may be a beneficial addition to your treatment plan.
Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the right approach for you.
12. Skin Conditions and Poor Skin Health
Expanding research is showing that our gut bacteria affect or modulate the immune system of many areas of bodies as far away from the gut as the lungs, brain, and even the skin naming these interactions as the gut-brain axis, the gut-skin axis, and the gut lung axis.
The skin and the gut are some of our largest organs each containing a large diverse bacteria and yeast population or microbiomes.
Gut microbiota, or the type of bacteria and other microorganisms you have in your gut can alter the skin’s immune system.
Certain skin conditions, such as eczema, may be linked to imbalances in the gut microbiota. Probiotics could potentially play a role in managing such conditions.
Several research studies show that there is a bidirectional link between the skin and the gut microbiome and that skin homeostasis or balance through modification of the immune system (source).
Additionally, the healthy gut microbiota produce compounds that promote a healthy lining of the gut which prevents bacteria, food particles, and toxins from entering the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
When you dont have enough of these healthy organisms, the lining of the gut breaks done and inflammation occurs causing systemic inflammation including skin conditions associated with inflammation such as rosecea, eczema, acne fulgaris, and more.
Poor gut health can lead to various skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Skin health is linked to gut health, so it’s crucial to keep your gut microbiota balanced.
Consuming probiotic-rich foods or probiotic supplementation can improve gut health, resulting in better skin health. Probiotic supplementation can promote a healthier gut microbiome by introducing good bacteria to overpower bad bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Incorporating probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir into your daily diet can also benefit your gut and skin health.
13. Probiotics and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system. It has been found that probiotic supplementation can reduce inflammation and manage the symptoms of IBD by promoting a healthier gut microbiome.
Factors Affecting Gut Health and Choosing the Right Probiotic
When it comes to maintaining gut health, several factors come into play, and making the right probiotic choice is vital. Gut bacteria can be classified into ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly.’
A healthy gut requires the right balance between these bacteria.
One of the best ways to increase friendly bacteria in the gut is by consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and kimchi.
For those unable to incorporate these foods into their diet, probiotic supplementation might be recommended.
Before starting probiotics, it’s vital to speak to a healthcare provider to ensure the supplement chosen is safe and effective.
Different strains of probiotics are available, and each has unique benefits for various health concerns. A healthcare provider can recommend a specific strain of probiotic that is most effective for you.
Additionally, factors like stress levels, medication use, and underlying health conditions can affect gut health. Ensuring a proper diet and minimizing stress levels can improve gut health.
Best Practices for Optimizing Gut Health and Probiotic Use
To maintain optimal gut health, it’s essential to prioritize your diet, reduce stress levels, and consider using probiotic supplements.
Foods to Boost Gut Health
The key to a healthy gut is a balanced diet with plenty of gut-friendly foods.
Consider adding probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir to your meals.
These foods contain good bacteria that can promote a healthy gut and improve digestion.
Other foods that can help include fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as apples, berries, and broccoli. Fiber can aid in digestion and promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Reduce Stress Levels
Stress can negatively impact gut health, so it’s essential to reduce stress levels where possible.
Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular exercise to help combat stress and promote a healthy gut.
Consider Probiotic Supplements
If you’re struggling with poor gut health, probiotic supplements may be a useful addition to your daily routine.
Be sure to choose a high-quality probiotic supplement with a variety of bacterial strains that are known to promote gut health.
Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure it’s appropriate for your individual needs and health history.
Choosing the Right Probiotic
When selecting a probiotic supplement, look for one that contains strains of bacteria that have been shown to support weight loss and metabolic health.
Talk to your healthcare provider to find the best options for your individual needs.
Maintaining good gut health is crucial for overall well-being, and probiotics can be a valuable tool to support a healthy gut.
By recognizing the signs that suggest you may need probiotics, such as digestive discomfort, irregular bowel movements, weakened immune system, and skin issues, you can take steps to improve your gut health and overall health.
It is important to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice and recommendations when choosing the right probiotic supplement, or any other dietary supplements and before making dietary changes.
Additionally, incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi into your diet and reducing stress levels can also support gut health.
By prioritizing gut health and using probiotics as part of a holistic approach to wellness, you can optimize your digestion, boost your immunity, and improve your overall quality of life.
Read related posts:
Signs and symptoms of leaky gut
The best foods for leaky gut
The gut-brain connection