Your gut is where digestion begins, it’s connected to your brain, and it’s at least 70% of your immune system. The bottom line — you can’t be healthy if your gut isn’t healthy. A diet free of refined sugar and artificial ingredients are part of the equation in promoting a healthy gut flora. Achieving a positive balance of bacteria is the other. Within your gut live colonies of friendly bacteria known as probiotics that are part of your microbiota. When you have healthy, established colonies, it has positive effects on your health.
How Probiotics Affect Your Health
You’ve probably heard a lot about how probiotics help digestion. But probiotics, the bacteria that lives in your gut, affect much more than digestion. In fact, they have far-reaching effects for your health, and there are probably many more benefits to these good bacteria that we have yet to discover. Here’s a quick snapshot of 7 ways probiotics affect your health.
1. Soothes IBS
Nothing’s worse than enjoying a delicious meal and suffering from bloating, gas, or abdominal pain. It turns out altered gut bacteria, or “microbiota,” contributes to several forms of IBS.  In terms of digestive health, probiotics correct the balance of gut bacteria you need for proper digestion. A study of 1,793 IBS sufferers found those who regularly consumed probiotics experienced less pain and fewer IBS symptoms than those who didn’t supplement with the bacteria.  Bacteria like L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium breve reduce the effects of digestive disorders like IBS, so make sure any probiotic you take contains these.
2. Encourages a Balanced Mood
The food-mood connection is very real, and you’ve probably experienced this on some occasions. If you’re not getting the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and protein, your mood suffers. One study found those who took probiotics responded better to a ‘sad mood’ and were able to stay more positive. Another found those who ate yogurt with live cultures experienced less anxiety and stress than those who ate conventional yogurts that don’t have them.  When buying yogurt, make sure it states it contains live cultures in order to improve gut health; if it doesn’t, don’t waste your time.
3. Keeps your Brain Working Right
Your gastrointestinal tract and your brain are directly linked by the vagus nerve. When your gut isn’t working right, neither’s your brain. You need digestion to provide you essential fatty acids, B vitamins, and other minerals needed to keep your brain working right. Research does show probiotics could support focus, concentration, and even mental health, so be sure to incorporate this crucial supplement if you find you need help in these areas.
Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria convert starches and sugars into usable energy. Studies show this reduces the impact of sugars and starches on your blood glucose levels, liver, and reduces your risk for developing metabolic syndrome. 
5. Contributes to Healthy Skin
Your body has a few ways to expel wastes: through your lower digestive tract, your urinary tract, your breath, and your skin. Probiotics process many toxins that make their way into your digestive tract and help your body expel the ones already there. This allows your body to remove them through your lower GI tract than through the skin, as in the form of acne.
6. Tempers Allergic Responses
Many allergies have been linked to digestive disorders and altered gut bacteria. Researchers have found kids who take probiotics experience allergic conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, at a much reduced rate compared to those who don’t.  Lactobacillus proved very effective against atopic dermatitis in children ages 1-18, even four months after ending the probiotic regimen.  Eczema in babies and infants also showed improvement when mothers took probiotics in the final trimester of their pregnancies. 
7. Protects Your Heart
Many probiotic bacteria produce vitamins we need to stay healthy, like biotin and vitamin B12. Vitamin K2 is another important one produced by bacteria in the colon. It’s essential for calcium distribution in the bones of your body. Low levels of K2 lead to calcification of the arteries and heart disease, so to keep your heart going strong, make sure you’re regularly eating probiotic-rich foods.
Your Health and Probiotics
You can get probiotics a couple of ways: through foods like yogurt, natto, sauerkraut, and from probiotic supplements. For a high-quality probiotic supplement, I recommend Floratrex™ which was formulated to contain 23 probiotic strains as well as prebiotics to support healthy gut flora. Of course, probiotics aren’t the only way to keep your digestive system happy and healthy. You can also try enzymes and periodic colon and liver cleansing.
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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