Having a thriving microbiome is one of the not-so-secret ways to increase your chance of living a long and vibrant life. Unless your diet—and let’s be honest, your life—is damn near perfect (if it is, go you!), modern-day ailments like stress, not enough sleep, too much caffeine, and inadequate prebiotic nutrients, among other things, can lead to an imbalance in your gut bacteria, which can take a toll on your well-being over time.
Thankfully, probiotic supplements help introduce beneficial bacteria to help your microbiome, which has a ripple effect throughout the body. The bacteria that live on us and inside affect everything from your skin to your digestion to your ability to fight off disease. Here are seven reasons to add a probiotic to your daily supplement regimen:
1. Boost your immunity.
Not all bacteria are bad! In fact, research shows we need the right amount of good gut bacteria to keep pathogens at bay. Studies show that probiotics successfully stimulate the immune systems of the elderly, leading to fewer respiratory infections and medical complications overall.
2. Get happy.
Additional research shows that people who drank probiotic-rich beverages spent less time dwelling on the bad. Other research points to the link between probiotics and lower social anxiety, illustrating the myriad mental health benefits of giving your gut the good stuff.
3. Balance the bad bacteria with the good.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s never taken an antibiotic at some point in her life, but they wipe out all of the good bacteria along with the bad. Taking probiotics while you’re on antibiotics can help fill the gaps in an unbalanced microbiome.
4. Move things along.
Yes, how well you digest things depends on the state of your microbiome. This meta-study found that taking probiotics helped alleviate symptoms in individuals with IBS. In another study, supplementing with probiotics was correlated with weight loss in obese men and women, suggesting improved digestion and cravings.
5. Protect against leaky gut.
Leaky gut is one of the biggest known causes of inflammation in the body, which often results from choosing food that upsets the gut or our go-go-go stressful lifestyles. But recent research has found that taking probiotics helps protect the lining of the intestines, reversing the effects of leaky gut and keeping inflammation at bay.
6. Balance candida.
Candida is an overgrowth of yeast in the gut or elsewhere in the body. This can be caused by a number of things, but the literature points to an overconsumption of sugar that feeds the yeast, which leads to an out-of-whack microbiome. Probiotics have been shown to reduce symptoms of oral candida in the elderly and can even help type 2 diabetics lower fasting blood sugar levels, keeping both symptoms and root causes in check.
7. Bonus: get glowing skin!
You may have noticed that natural skin care has a new ingredient: probiotics! Bacteria work their magic on our bodies inside and out, and bacteria on our skin work to protect us against conditions like eczema and psoriasis—one more reason to keep your microbiome in tiptop condition.