Probiotics and Gut Health: Benefits And 11 Effective Ways to Increase Good Bacteria Naturally

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Published on: 22-Apr-2024

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Anvesha Chowdhury

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Probiotics and Gut Health: Benefits And 11 Effective Ways to Increase Good Bacteria Naturally

Probiotics and Gut Health: Benefits And 11 Effective Ways to Increase Good Bacteria Naturally

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In recent years, probiotics and their potential effects on gut health have received much attention. The benefits of these tiny bacteria, which aid digestion and strengthen the immune system, are vast and far-reaching. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve deeper into the world of probiotics, discovering their mechanisms of action, health benefits, sources, and more. So, let us learn more about probiotics and gut health to enhance your gut journey! 

Table Of Contents 

1. What Are Gut Bacteria And Probiotics? 

2. Boost Gut Health: What Are The Benefits Of Probiotics? 

3. How To Increase Good Gut Bacteria Naturally? 

4. When Should Probiotics Be Taken To Improve Gut Microbiota? 

5. Dietitian’s Recommendation 

6. The Final Say 

7. FAQs 

8. References 

 

What Are Gut Bacteria And Probiotics?  

Probiotics, also known as gut microbiome, refer to the diversity of bacteria that live in the gut (specifically the large intestine or colon). These organisms include bacteria, archaea, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Bacteria are the most abundant and best-studied members of the gut microbiota. The gut microbiome is very diverse, with hundreds of species. Some bacterial species commonly found in the gut are Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia, each with different types and species. 

Probiotics are live bacteria that provide health benefits to the host when ingested in large quantities. Beneficial bacteria and yeast colonise the intestines and play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the microbiome, the large community of bacteria that lives in your intestines. Probiotics have many benefits for good bacteria in the gut. 

The mechanisms by which probiotics exert their beneficial effects are diverse. They improve bowel function, strengthen the immune system, produce antibiotics and control pain. Additionally, probiotics help ferment dietary fibre to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which support cells in the intestines and contribute to good gut health. 

Boost Gut Health: What Are The Benefits Of Probiotics? 

Probiotics and gut health are essential in boosting your body's function. When choosing a probiotic supplement, factors such as strain specificity, strength, and potency should be considered. Different types of probiotics have specific benefits, so choosing a supplement that suits your needs is essential. Look for products rigorously tested for potency and purity to ensure effectiveness. Here are some reasons why probiotics should be taken to enrich the good bacteria in the stomach: 

Regulates Digestive Health 

 

Probiotics are essential in regulating digestion by balancing the intestinal microbiota. They help regulate digestion, reduce digestive symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and reduce the risk of accompanying bacteria by treating intestinal damage caused by antibiotics. 

Supports The Immune System 

 

The immune system is mainly in the intestines. Probiotics strengthen the immune system by supporting the production of antibodies and other immune cells, helping the body fight infections and diseases. They also control inflammation and reduce the risk of inflammation. 

Improves Nutrient Absorption 

 

Some probiotics help break down and absorb nutrients in the digestive tract, including vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. This increases overall nutrient absorption and optimises the body's use of nutrients. 

Helps in Managing Allergies and Atopic Conditions 

 

Probiotics should reduce the risk and severity of allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis. They regulate the immune system and can help prevent allergies by strengthening it. 

Good For Heart Health 

Some studies show that certain types of probiotics may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Probiotics metabolise bile acids and produce short-chain fatty acids that support heart health. 

Regulates Mood And Mental Health 

The stomach-brain axis is a two-way communication between the stomach and the brain. Probiotics disrupt this axis by producing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which regulate emotions and behaviour. New evidence shows that probiotics may be beneficial for mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress. 

Helps With Managing Body Weight 

 

Some probiotic bacteria may help control appetite, reduce fat storage, and aid weight loss. Probiotics can affect metabolism and energy balance and help prevent and control obesity. 

Beneficial For Oral Health 

 

Probiotics are beneficial orally by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. They also help maintain the health of the oral microbiota by promoting oral hygiene. 

Strengthens Women's Health 

 

Probiotics have been studied for their role in preventing and treating vaginal infections such as yeast infections and vaginosis. Probiotics can help reduce women's symptoms and reduce the risk of infection by restoring the balance of the vagina. 

 

How To Increase Good Gut Bacteria Naturally? 

Here are some ways by which you can increase your healthy gut bacteria naturally- 



1. Eat A Diverse Diet 

Eating fibre-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, provides essential nutrients and prebiotic fibre supporting gut bacteria microbiome. Plan to include an assortment of colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet to maximise nutrition.     

2. Include Fermented Foods 

Eating fermented foods improves gut bacteria by introducing beneficial probiotics, which help restore and maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut. These probiotics enhance digestion, support immune function, and may reduce inflammation, contributing to overall gut health and well-being. Fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut contain live cultures of beneficial bacteria that can populate the gut microbiota, promoting diversity and resilience in the microbial community. 

 

3. Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, have been shown to support gut health by promoting the growth of good bacteria in the gut and reducing intestinal inflammation.  

 

4. Include Polyphenol-Rich Foods 

Polyphenols are plant compounds in foods such as berries, dark chocolate, green tea, red wine, and some fruits and vegetables. They have prebiotic effects and can support the growth of intestinal bacteria.    

5. Priortise Fiber-Rich Diet 

Fiber acts as a prebiotic, nourishing gut bacteria. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds to get enough fibre. 

 

6. Consume Prebiotic Foods 

Prebiotics are fibre that feeds beneficial gut bacteria, helping them thrive and balance. Foods containing prebiotics include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, endive roots, yams, dandelion leaves, and whole grains such as oats and barley. Including these foods in your diet can support the growth of healthy gut bacteria 

7. Limit Sugar And Processed Foods 

High-sugar and processed foods can affect the balance of gut bacteria by encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria while inhibiting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Avoid sugary foods, drinks, refined grains, and processed foods because these can affect gut health and microbial diversity.  

8. Manage Stress 

Chronic stress affects gut health by altering the gut microbiota and causing impaired digestion. To support a healthy gut-brain axis and microbial balance, practice stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, or spending time in nature. 

9. Do Regular Exercise 

Physical activity has been shown to positively affect the composition and diversity of the gut microbiota. To support overall health and the gut microbiome, get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week 

10. Stay Hydrated 

Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining a healthy gut and supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to ensure proper hydration and support proper digestion.  

11. Avoid Antibiotics When Possible 

Antibiotics can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, killing both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Never use antibiotics unnecessarily, and only use antibiotics with a doctor's prescription. If you must take antibiotics, consider supplementing with probiotics afterwards to help restore gut microbial balance. 


When Should Probiotics Be Taken To Improve Gut Microbiota?   

As you already know, probiotics and gut health are closely related. You can increase healthy gut bacteria by taking probiotics in the following ways- 

 

1. Along With Meals 

Taking probiotics with food can help protect good bacteria from stomach acid and bile salts and increase their survival as they pass through the intestines. Consuming probiotics, especially fatty ones, with food can increase their stability and improve their distribution to the intestines. 

 

2. Before Bed 

Some people find it helpful to take probiotics before bed. These allow beneficial bacteria to grow and colonise the gut at night when the intestines are not digested. Taking probiotics before bed also reduces the risk of side effects from medications or other medications taken earlier in the day.  

3. After Antibiotics 

If you have recently stopped taking antibiotics, consider taking probiotics afterwards to replenish the good bacteria the antibiotics have depleted. Wait at least a few hours after taking an antibiotic before starting a probiotic to avoid blocking the absorption of the antibiotic  

4. During Travel Or Stressful Situations  

Travelling, especially to areas with different sanitation and water standards or during stressful times, can affect gut health. Taking probiotics during this time can help support digestion and immunity, reducing the traveller's risk of diarrhoea or other stomach problems 

  

5. During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding 

Probiotic supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding can help support the health of the mother and fetus. Before using probiotics during pregnancy or breastfeeding, please consult a doctor to ensure their safety and correct intake. 

  

6. Maintain Consistency 
Consistency is essential when supplementing with probiotics. Taking probiotics simultaneously each day helps maintain good bacteria in your gut and supports microbial balance. Please choose a time that suits your daily routine and stick to it for the best results.  

7. Follow As Directed 

Follow the directions on your probiotic supplement's label or as your doctor recommends. Some probiotics work better when taken on an empty stomach, while others work better with food. The recommended dosage and frequency may also vary depending on the probiotic type and formulation.  

 

Dietitian’s Recommendation 

To keep your stomach healthy, add healthy foods like yoghurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables to your diet. For the best results, choose medications that contain specific bacteria. Eat prebiotic-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support healthy gut bacteria. Consult a nutritionist for personalised recommendations on probiotic use. 

                                                                                  Dt. Akshata Gandevikar 

 

The Final Say 

In summary, probiotics and gut health are interrelated. Probiotics are essential in supporting gut and overall health. By incorporating probiotic-rich foods and supplements into your daily routine and adopting healthy habits, you can develop a healthy microbiome and experience the countless benefits that come with it. Remember, a happy stomach is the door to a healthy life!   

FAQs 

1. How to improve good gut bacteria? 

To improve good gut bacteria, you can: 

  • Keep yourself hydrated 

  • Eat foods rich in polyphenols 

  • Eat fermented foods 

  • Eat a high-fibre diet 

  • Eat fermented foods 

 

2. What are some good foods for gut bacteria? 

Here are some good foods for gut bacteria that you can incorporate into your diet: 

  • Bananas 

  • Almonds 

  • Berries 

  • Kimchi 

  • Onions 

  • Garlic 

  • Yoghurt 

3. How can I incorporate probiotics to help with gut health? 

You can incorporate these probiotic foods to enhance your gut health: 

  • Buttermilk 

  • Kombucha 

  • Sauerkraut 

  • Cheese 

  • Sourdough 

  • Apple cider vinegar 

4. How to boost gut health? 

You can boost your gut health by: 

  • Eat diverse food, including vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. 

  • Limit processed foods. 

  • Eat your food slowly and chew properly to reduce digestive discomfort. 

  • Eat fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, etc. 

  • Engage in cardiovascular exercises like walking, cycling, etc. 

  • Focus on your mental well-being. 

  • Get enough high-quality sleep. 

References 

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