Talks about bacteria tend to bring up thoughts related to illness and infections. While there are bacterium species that cause disease and even death in some cases, a significant number of bacteria actually help to protect the body.
Beneficial bacteria, often referred to as probiotics, play an important role in human health. They help to keep the gut working and strengthens the immune system.
There are some facts that not everyone knows about probiotics in general, however. In this post, we reveal 20 amazing facts about probiotics that you probably didn’t know. These facts will tell you just how important these supplements should be and what they can really do for you.
1. Probiotics Offer Over 100 Health Benefits
Let us start with the health benefits that these good bacteria offer. There are many scientific studies that have been conducted to identify exactly how probiotics affect the human body. Over the years, researchers have found more than 100 health benefits that a person can gain from using probiotics – either through food sources or by taking a daily supplement.
These benefits range from treating diarrhea and constipation, easing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and probiotics may even yield a decline in serum cholesterol levels.
2. There Are Over 400 Species Of Probiotics In The Human Body
There are quite a large number of different bacterium species in existence. Many of these are bad and have been linked to infections, ranging from a tooth abscess to strep throat, and more. There is also a significant diversity of probiotic bacteria – the good kind of bacterium species that should live in your body.
About 20 strains of probiotic bacteria are exceptionally common in the human body. Even though many studies tend to focus on these, it is essential to note that there are more than 400 different beneficial bacterium species that have been identified to date.
3. Most Probiotics Are In The Gastrointestinal Tract
You get most of the probiotics in your body from food sources like yogurt and kefir. These probiotics go toward your gastrointestinal tract once you consume these foods. The same applies to cases where you increase your intake of probiotics with a supplement.
The majority of probiotics in your body tend to live within the gastrointestinal tract. It is also here where they seem to perform the majority of the functions associated with these beneficial bacteria.
4. Other Parts Of The Body Contain Probiotics Too
Most publications focus on probiotics in the gut, but there are several other areas of your body where probiotic bacteria also thrive, just in fewer concentrations.
Other parts of your body that also contain probiotic bacteria include:
- Oral cavity
- Nasal cavity
- Urinary tract
There are also billions of these bacteria on your skin.
5. The Use Of Probiotics Date Back To Ancient Times
A significant number of probiotic food sources that we eat today to help increase the good bacteria in our bodies come from ancient times. This means that probiotics are certainly not new to the modern world. They have been used to treat several conditions for many years – possibly thousands of years.
Examples of such ancient probiotic foods include:
Many of these have cultural heritages associated with them. They also provide additional medicinal values.
6. Probiotics Help With The Absorption Of Nutrients
Many people do not realize that probiotics actually plays a critical role in the absorption and bioavailability of several nutrients in the body. In fact, without probiotics, the body would not be able to effectively absorb the vitamins and minerals in the food that you eat.
In the gastrointestinal tract, probiotics play a role in the breakdown of certain chemicals in the food that you eat. The bacteria also ensure nutrients are absorbed into your blood system and distributed through your body.
7. Infants Can Also Benefit From Probiotics
A lot of people consider probiotics as supplements for adults. What you may not realize is that your infant may also be able to benefit from an increase in probiotic-rich foods. Infants as young as two-to-three months of age might be able to benefit from probiotics.
When probiotics are used in infants, expect a reduced risk of colic. There is also some evidence that probiotics could potentially aid in the growth of an infant.
8. Probiotics Weigh More Than Your Brain
Here’s an interesting fact. Your brain weighs more than your heart. The average heart tends to weigh about 0.8 pounds. The brain, on average, has a weight of about three pounds.
If you collect all of the probiotic bacteria that are found inside your body, then the accumulated weight of these microorganisms will generally be more than what your brain weighs. The collective weight of all probiotic microorganisms in the human body is usually around 3.5 pounds. This is just slightly less than the liver, which weighs about four pounds.
9. Probiotic Count Could Reach Past Your Cell Count
Another interesting fact is that there may be more probiotic microorganisms in the human body than there are cells. The human body is filled with about ten trillion cells. These cells make up all tissue that allows a person to live and survive on a daily basis.
When you turn your focus to probiotics, the count grows significantly. The average healthy person will have anywhere between 100 and 300 billion probiotic microorganisms in their body at any given time. This accounts for both beneficial yeast and bacteria microorganisms that are considered probiotic. However with active supplementation this can increase significantly.
10. The Appendix Releases Probiotics
For a significant period of time, the appendix was considered a useless part of the gastrointestinal tract. That was until recently, however. Researchers have discovered that the appendix actually does have a role to play – surprisingly, this small part of the gut seems to release probiotics in response to the presence of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
The release of these probiotics helps to fight against the pathogens that have entered the body. In turn, the appendix potentially acts as an antibiotic in this term – helping to attack invading bacteria.
11. Probiotics Regulate The Immune System
There are a lot of factors that can have an impact on the function of the immune system in the human body. One of these factors seems to come down to the well-being of the gut flora, or microbiome. In fact, about 70% of the immune system consists of probiotics.
The more beneficial bacteria in the body, the better the immune system will be able to react to the presence of pathogenic materials in the body – including the presence of invading bacteria and other microorganisms that could cause you harm.
12. Probiotics Reduce The Symptoms And Duration Of Colds
The immune system plays a role in the risk of catching a cold. Additionally, the immune system also functions to help reduce the severity of symptoms and even fight against a cold faster. A weak immune system could mean worse symptoms of a cold and a longer duration during which you will be affected by the condition.
When your probiotics strengthen your immune system, it means you are less likely to catch a cold. When you do catch a cold, you will generally be able to recover faster.
13. Probiotics Could Potentially Fight Against Cancer
There is some evidence that probiotics might also be useful for people diagnosed with cancer – or potentially those at risk of cancer.
Studies have shown that probiotics may help to reduce the presence of cytokines in the human body. These are inflammatory triggers that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Probiotics are increasingly being used alongside conventional treatments for patients with cancer.
14. Probiotics Can Act As Natural Antibiotics
Certain strains of probiotics may help to fight against pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms that are known to contribute to infections and disease. With this in mind, it does seem like some types of probiotics could potentially act as natural antibiotics in your body.
This can be useful for reducing the risks associated with antibiotic use – many adverse effects have been noted among patients who are frequently required to use antibiotics, often due to the presence of a recurrent, chronic infectious disease. This can also lead to the development of antibiotic resistance.
15. Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Are Vulnerable To Probiotics
Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly concerning factor in the modern world. This is when bacteria changes in such a way that they become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat infections.
There is some evidence that the use of probiotics could be beneficial to people who have developed a level of antibiotic resistance. It seems like the bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics still remain vulnerable to certain probiotic strains.
This can help to reduce the risk of systemic infections and other dangerous, potentially life-threatening complications when a person is infected with a pathogenic bacterium.
16. Probiotics Do Not Only Include Good Bacteria
When people talk about probiotics, the main thought is usually “good bacteria.” It is true that the main factor with probiotics is to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the body.
What many people do not know is that the term “probiotics” also refers to certain beneficial strains of fungi. There are species of fungi that can also help to strengthen the immune system and bring about other potential benefits in your body.
17. Probiotics May Help With Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a very uncomfortable condition, causing symptoms similar to those associated with irritable bowel syndrome when a person consumes dairy products. This is due to sugar, known as lactose, found in these products.
There are studies that have shown the use of probiotics could be useful for people with lactose intolerance. Symptoms associated with lactose intolerance seemed to improve in people who consumed dairy after they took certain probiotic supplements.
18. Some Vitamins Are Produced By Probiotics
We previously discussed how probiotics help the body absorb nutrients. It is also important to note that some vitamins can actually be produced by probiotics too. This is why probiotics are advised for improving the nutritional balance in your body.
Vitamin A and K are both produced by probiotics in your gastrointestinal tract. Several vitamin Bs are also produced by these probiotics – including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. These vitamins all play a critical role in your health. Additionally, probiotics also help with the production of essential fatty acids.
19. It Might Be Better To Get Probiotics From Food
When you want to increase the number of probiotic bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, you have two options to choose from. You can increase your intake of probiotic-rich foods, or you can decide to take a supplement that contains probiotics.
Both of these sources are beneficial. They can also be used together, as they will complement each other to help you improve your gut flora.
What you should note is that probiotics from supplements do not stay in your system like those obtained from food. Instead, they remain present for about two weeks – and then leave your system.
20. The Probiotic Market Is HUGE
The probiotic market is bigger than in many other industries. The market also continues to grow as more research studies are conducted about the health benefits that these foods and supplements can offer the general population.
Hundreds of different probiotic products are already available on the market. Probiotics have also already grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. This makes these products exceptionally easy to find, regardless of where you live.
With probiotic supplements becoming increasingly popular, many people are not sure if they should also try this trend. Both food and supplements can help to increase the diversity of good bacterium species that live in your gut. We considered 20 impressive facts about these beneficial bacteria to give you a better idea about what they are truly all about.
Ahmed successfully completed his degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. He is passionate about all things health. He is also a surgery resident and fitness enthusiast.