1. Not all probiotics are the same
There are actually different strains or ‘types’ of bacteria classified as probiotic - though most come from two groups; Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium.
Lactobacillus is the more common – the one found in yogurt and other fermented foods, and the different strains can help with digestive health and may help with people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
Bifidobacterium is found in some dairy products, and may help ease the symptoms of medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If in doubt, talk to your GP or pharmacist about what type of probiotic will best suit your specific needs.
2. Probiotics may benefit your brain health
One of the more popular areas of scientific research into gut health currently is the gut-brain connection, which looks at how the brain and gut communicate, with studies suggesting disrupting gut bacteria may influence the brain.
Researchers are proposing certain probiotics, which aim to restore normal gut flora, may be helpful in positively impacting brain function, and may help to support your response to stress.
3. Probiotics may support a healthy waistline
Research suggests that probiotics may have a positive influence on body weight and body mass index (BMI).
In one study, researchers investigated the benefits of probiotic supplementation on weight and BMI in over 1,900 healthy individuals. What they found was that probiotics may lead to a moderate amount of weight loss and decrease in BMI, and that these results were greatest in those subjects that were considered overweight.
4. Probiotics may help to support vaginal health
Healthy vaginal flora is dominated by Lactobacilli, a common probiotic- which acts as a first line of defence preventing infectious agents from causing discomfort.
They produce lactic acid, keeping the vaginal environment acidic, which helps to maintain a healthy balance of ‘good’ bacteria.
Lactobacilli also produce hydrogen peroxide, which also creates a harsh environment and helps to maintain a healthy balance of ‘good’ bacteria.
5. Probiotics may help travellers avoid stomach problems
The research is admittedly mixed on this one, but does show some support for the benefits of using probiotics to help support ‘traveller’s tummy’. Topping up probiotic levels may be useful after following a course of antibiotics.
Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum strains have been shown to be most effective for these conditions, but there are no formal clinical guidelines for probiotic use just yet.