What Are Biotics Good For?
So, “What are biotics?” you ask. You might have seen the advertising on TV, the Internet and in magazines and newspapers and might finally be thinking about trying one of these products. It’s good that you’re doing a little research on the topic first rather than jumping in headfirst because there are some things that are important to know before you purchase any sort of probiotics supplement.
Don’t Forget Prebiotics
In order to have a complete understanding of the answer to the question, “What are biotics?” you first need to know about prebiotics. These are the unheralded, underrated substances that probiotics need to survive. Probiotics get all of the attention, but prebiotics are just about as important to your health. After all, if prebiotics didn’t exist, probiotics couldn’t provide you with any benefits.
You can find prebiotics in foods such as sourdough bread and bananas. They’re fibers that our bodies can’t digest. But even though we can’t process them, probiotics can. In fact, they feed on them to get their energy. The relationship between prebiotics and probiotics is, in a manner of speaking, similar to that of gas and an engine.
But prebiotics are more than just food for prebiotics. They can also deliver some important health benefits on their own, including the following.
Digestive health – Prebiotics help in the production of butyric acid and other short-chain fatty acids. Butyric acid plays a role in helping to keep the walls of the intestines strong so that viruses and harmful bacteria can’t pass through them. Prebiotics also help make sure our bowel movements stay regular.1
Reduction of inflammation – Prebiotics have been shown to affect the body’s metabolism in a way that could reduce inflammation of muscles and tissues.2
Boosting the immune system – Research indicates that increasing your intake of prebiotics can help strengthen the immune system, helping to protect you from several different kinds of diseases as a result. Although it’s not clear why this is the case, scientists theorize that prebiotics help reduces the growth of microbes that can weaken the system. They do this, one theory holds, by lowering acidity in the gastrointestinal tract, or “gut,” and also by breaking down vital nutrients to the body can absorb them.3
Probiotics get all the notoriety in comparison to prebiotics, but there’s a very good reason. As vital as prebiotics are, probiotics are what provide a wide range of health benefits.
The gut is filled with trillions of bacteria. Some of them are good for us, and some of them are harmful. Probiotic supplements are designed to help ensure an ample supply of good bacteria so that the bad ones don’t take over. When that happens, the body is at risk for a host of problems. These range from diarrhea and vomiting to irritable bowel syndrome and other major issues.
But probiotics provide other benefits than stabilizing our gut. Here are a few.
Reducing blood pressure – Scientists analyzed several studies that involved more than 500 people who had high blood pressure. Researchers were investigating whether or not probiotics could help reduce blood pressure, and found that they can. According to the results of the analysis, people who used probiotic supplements that contain several strains of good bacteria had lower blood pressure readings than those who took supplements with only one strain. But regardless of the number of strains, people who took supplements had lower readings than people who didn’t.4
Feminine issues – Many women have to deal with painful yeast and urinary tract infections. Studies show that women who take probiotics have a better chance of warding off these problems than those who don’t.5
Respiratory problems – Young people who use probiotics may be at a lower risk of developing respiratory issues than those who don’t. According to the results of one study, children who took probiotic supplements had fewer problems than those who didn’t take supplements.6
Hopefully, this has helped answer the question of, “What are biotics?” It’s very important you purchase supplements that have both prebiotics and probiotics so you can enjoy the most health benefits possible. While these products are thought to be very safe, talk to your doctor before you buy one just to make sure.