The Possibilities of Probiotics

Here’s the latest probiotics that can contribute to a healthy body.

Probiotics are nothing new in the world of supplements, but with so many options, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. With hundreds of different brands and labels, it can be challenging to know what and where to start because of the different avenues to take based on every individual’s health and concerns. Probiotics are a great way to hone in on specific parts of the body to get them back on track. 

How Do Probiotics Work?

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can provide health benefits when they are applied or consumed. While they can be found in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and pickles, probiotics can also be consumed as dietary supplements or used in beauty products to help individuals fulfill their probiotic needs. A person’s gut can become unbalanced, meaning, there is an unhealthy amount of bacteria in their stomach that could lead to diarrhea or other intestinal problems. Taking probiotics can help restore a person’s internal bacterial balance and protect the body from unhealthy bacteria. 

Dr. William VanDivier, an independent consulting physician who helps hospitals utilize physicians, explains how the bacteria in our stomachs get broken down into something good. “The best way to think about [probiotics] is that [there are] good bacteria and bad bacteria,” VanDivier says. “[Probiotics] are trying to keep the bad bacteria in check by putting what we think are symbiotic—or good—bacteria into the system to help clog up space.” 

Since the human body produces good bacteria at a slow rate, taking probiotics fills the holes that bad bacteria would otherwise inhabit. So, probiotics clog up space to allow good bacteria to flourish and force bad bacteria to slowly disappear.  

External: Skin

Collagen is a structural protein found in many probiotics that promotes gut health, supports structural cells and tissues, and prevents wrinkles. Though collagen is a natural protein found in the human body, it becomes less prevalent as we age because collagen production slows as a person gets older. This means signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, become more prominent. 

Taking collagen in the form of a probiotic can allow for faster tissue repair, better immune response, and an increase in overall cellular production. Collagen can be found naturally within foods, such as fish, berries, and garlic, but if you need an increase in collagen, it can also be found in a powder or capsule form. 

Increasing your collagen intake is an easy way to gain skin elasticity and improve firmness that may have been lost over time. Taking collagen as early as your twenties can help to build storage that will protect bone strength, muscles, and skin elasticity Once collagen production slows, your body can pull from years of stored collagen to continue keeping skin smooth. 

Internal: Vagina

We tend to keep the health of reproductive organs private, but vaginal probiotics are too good to keep a secret. Adding a cranberry probiotic into your routine can help balance the vaginal microbiome and support the healthy functioning of the urinary tract. A cranberry probiotic is meant to produce a healthy pH and balance good bacteria within the urinary tract.

Most people turn to vaginal probiotics for one of two reasons: bacterial yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. In the Harvard Health Blog, Kelly Bilodeau, an executive editor of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, opened a discussion about vaginal health with Dr. Caroline Michelle, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. 

“When it comes to vagina health, some common gynecological conditions are thought to be caused by an imbalance of bacteria inside the vagina,” says Mitchell. “[And] there are some women who could benefit from probiotics.”

Vaginal yeast infections occur when there is an overgrowth of fungus called candida that causes inflammation and itchiness at the opening of the vagina. However, in the case of vaginal yeast infections, the bad bacteria outnumber the good and are stuck in place.

While vaginal yeast infections are common and easy to resolve, bacterial vaginosis is more difficult for doctors to discover and treat. Bacterial vaginosis is more common for women of childbearing age, which is the time between when a woman starts her period to when she enters menopause. Unfortunately, many experts do not know much about this bacteria because it is hard to detect. Bacterial vaginosis does not have any symptoms, so it is difficult for doctors to diagnose. However, it can be treated with prescription creams, gels, and medication when found. “In [an] attempt to ease discomfort caused by [the] two: bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, women seek out probiotics,” Michelle says. 

Another probiotic that can be found in acidic environments is acidophiles. This microorganism is known to thrive in environments with a pH below three. Because of their ability to live in extreme conditions, acidophiles can be found in the intestines. They help to break down and pass food. Acidophiles are a common probiotic that many do not know they are taking because they can be found in fermented foods, yogurts, or supplements. 

“Another [microorganism to use] is acidophiles as a probiotic,” VanDivier explains. “So, what that does is it makes it through your gut and produces good bacteria in your stomach. And some of that has also been proven to decrease yeast infections for females too.”

Mind: Stress 

Stress is something everyone goes through. At times, we need help to calm down and refocus on our daily tasks and it might be as easy as introducing probiotics to help keep you on course. The right probiotic can support one’s mental focus and help people conquer everyday tasks when they might seem impossible. 

L-Tyrosine is a probiotic that deals with mental processing and cognition to help with navigating everyday challenges. Adding Rhodiola rosea, a natural tonic that promotes good health, strength, and endurance, as a probiotic may also help reduce stress. Another natural source of stress relief is ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb that promotes body calmness. Finally, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is something our bodies produce naturally, but when GABA levels are low, people are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. By taking a GABA probiotic, GABA levels will rise, allowing for more relaxed, stress-free days.