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Home arrow Health arrow Gut Health arrow What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics? 7 Tell-Tale Indicators

What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics? 7 Tell-Tale Indicators

HR_author_photo_Edna
Written by Edna Skopljak, MD
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: November 7, 2023
8 min read 533 Views 0 Comments
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Find out how probiotics could unlock your best health yet by understanding the subtle signals your body is sending you.

what are the signs you need probiotics

You may have heard of probiotics – friendly bacteria that exist throughout the body, including your gut. You might also be familiar with probiotic supplements, which, thanks to social media and influencer marketing, are becoming all the rage within the health and wellness world. 

Despite being a huge trend, these supplements do actually provide several great health benefits, as they help replenish good bacteria while eliminating toxins that could be causing a range of uncomfortable symptoms. 

If you’re unsure, our expert team will explain how you know you need to start taking probiotics, including the signs your body may be giving you. We’ll also talk you through how to choose the best probiotic strain for your unique needs.

What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics? 7 Subtle Signals

From boosting the immune system to providing clearer and healthier skin, probiotics provide a wide range of advantages for those with a bacterial imbalance throughout the body. 

Here are 7 indications that you may be suffering from this imbalance and may, therefore, benefit from including probiotic supplements in your daily routine:

#1 Constant digestive discomfort

If you find yourself feeling bloated, regularly have stomach pain, or are suffering from constipation, you may benefit from taking probiotics. All of these symptoms are key indications that harmful toxins are outnumbering the good bacteria in your body, leaving your gut microbiome unbalanced and your digestive tract in distress.

This may be due to poor diet, excessive alcohol or cigarette consumption, or stress. Alternatively, it could be due to antibiotic use. While treating diseases caused by bacteria like urinary tract infections, antibiotics also eliminate beneficial bacteria, including probiotic species.

Antibiotics may also cause an increase in bad Clostridium bacteria, which infects the bowel and causes diarrhea. Fortunately, this can be relieved with probiotic supplements that will repopulate the gut with friendly microbes, relieving your discomfort.

#2 Weak immune system

Approximately 70–80% of your immune cells are based in the gut, which is why immunity and gut health are closely linked. Having a healthy gut microbiome ensures that your immune system can effectively fight off the harmful toxins that attack bodily tissues. 

An imbalanced microbiome weakens this response, increasing your likelihood of infection and injury and impacting how often you get sick. Your immune system also regulates the body’s inflammatory response, which helps fight infection and repair tissue damage.

However, chronic inflammation, a long-term response, can increase your risk of developing serious conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It’s believed that the gut microbiome links chronic inflammation to these diseases, which is why improving your gut health with probiotics is so important.

#3 Food intolerances

Intolerances develop when your body can’t digest a specific type of food and are typically associated with gluten, lactose (sugar within milk), fructose (naturally occurring sugar), and caffeine. If you eat these foods, you may experience gas, bloating, headaches, stomach pain, or diarrhea, just to name a few potential digestive tract side effects.

Research suggests that food intolerances may arise because of disruptions to your gut flora. While a normal gut is made up of a wide array of good bacteria, those with intolerances tend to have a less diverse microbiome. 

For example, specific probiotic strains help break down gluten proteins, so having a lack of these can increase your chances of developing a gluten intolerance.

However, the exact relationship between probiotics and gluten intolerance is complex, and further research is needed to confirm the link.

#4 Irregular bowel movements

Whether you’re experiencing regular bouts of diarrhea or are struggling to go to the toilet at all, both can be signs you need probiotics due to poor gut health. Constipation and diarrhea can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and probiotics may help alleviate the symptoms of this condition by delivering friendly bacteria to your gut.

Having loose, watery stools may also be an indication that your body is overrun with a viral infection, such as norovirus, or harmful bacteria like E.coli and Clostridium difficile (C.diff). 

Due to low levels of friendly probiotic bacteria, your immune system may be finding it hard to fight these toxins off, so probiotics or supplements containing psyllium husk can be handy. Psyllium husk is known for its high fiber content, which helps promote regular bowel movements. 

Constipation occurs when a stool remains in the colon for too long, meaning its water content is absorbed. This hardens the stool, making it difficult to pass. 

Probiotics may relieve constipation by producing short-chain fatty acids, which lower the pH of your colon. This encourages the muscles within your digestive system to contract and push out stools more easily.

#5 Skin issues

Did you know that your gut and skin health are completely connected? If you’re struggling with acne, eczema, or rosacea, it’s likely that your skin microbiome is overrun with bad bacteria. 

Taking probiotics can help reinforce the strength of this protective microbiome, which reduces the inflammation that can lead to many of these skin conditions. 

Research indicates that probiotic supplements may help prevent skin damage caused by UV rays, which can lead to skin cancer. By maintaining good skin health, they may also protect against the signs of aging, including wrinkles.

#6 Unexplained mood swings

Serotonin, which is often referred to as the “happy hormone,” is made in the gut. Therefore, if your gut is struggling to function properly, it’s likely to manufacture less serotonin, which can leave you feeling low. 

Known as your body’s “second brain,” poor gut health can also affect the way your brain functions. It’s thought that irritation within the digestive system, often triggered by conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, stimulates mood changes by sending signals to your central nervous system. 

Dysbiosis, an imbalance of gut bacteria, and inflammation within the gut are therefore linked to many mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. 

#7 Constant fatigue

Feeling tired all the time could be a sign that you have a probiotic deficiency. As we’ve mentioned, you may be suffering from low levels of serotonin, which regulates sleep as well as mood. This means you may be struggling to sleep, leading to lower energy levels throughout the day.

Research also indicates a link between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and leaky gut, a condition where bad gut bacteria and other toxins leak through your intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Probiotic supplements can be effective in treating leaky gut by improving the strength of this wall and lowering levels of harmful bacteria.

Who Can Benefit From Probiotics?

If you’re struggling with health concerns, the first thing you should address is your lifestyle. Make sure you’re eating a diet full of healthy foods, maintaining a regular exercise routine, lowering your stress levels, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep. 

However, if your symptoms are persistent despite making these changes, you may want to try taking probiotics to help your body recover from its digestive health distress. You could benefit from probiotics if you are suffering from:

  • Bloating, excess gas, or stomach cramps
  • Irregular bowel movements, including diarrhea or constipation
  • Brain fog or memory problems
  • Mood disturbances
  • Mental health conditions like anxiety or depression
  • Fatigue and trouble sleeping
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Poor skin health

Despite their health benefits, probiotic supplements aren’t safe for everyone. If you have a weakened immune system, are going through chemotherapy, or have recently had surgery, probiotics can increase the risk of infection. For those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an existing health condition, speak to your doctor before taking any supplement.

How to Choose the Right Probiotic Strain

There are a wide variety of probiotics that exist in your body. Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces boulardii are among the most well-studied and commonly used in supplements and foods.

While they are all beneficial, each has unique advantages for specific health issues. When choosing a probiotic supplement, it’s important to check the product’s ingredients list before making your decision. Here’s what these three probiotics are best for:

  • Lactobacillus – Found mainly in your bowel, this species is specifically great for supporting healthy digestion and immune function.
  • Bifidobacterium – They reside in the colon and produce the short-chain fatty acid butyrate. This supplies energy to cells and regulates metabolic processes such as insulin sensitivity.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii – This is a type of yeast that strengthens your intestinal lining and restores a healthy balance of bacteria within the gut. It’s best for those who may be suffering from antibiotic-related diarrhea

A Word From Our MD

Expert image border HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Rosmy Barrios, MD
Medical advisor for Health Reporter

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria found throughout your gut and gastrointestinal system. They help to support your digestive system, aid the absorption of important vitamins and minerals, and destroy toxins, among other functions.

When you don’t have enough probiotic bacteria in your body, harmful toxins can begin to build up, leading to poor digestion, bloating, and even trouble going to the toilet.

Along with existing in your body, probiotics can also be found in several fermented foods and drinks, including yogurt, garlic, sauerkraut, aged cheese, kombucha, and kefir. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, try including some of these in your diet.

You could also try probiotic supplements as a handy gut health hack, which typically come in capsule form. The best time to take them is first thing in the morning or a few hours after your last meal on an empty stomach. However, before adding any new probiotic supplement into your routine, you should always consult a doctor first to ensure it is safe.

FAQs

Is it necessary to take probiotics?

Probiotics aren’t necessary, as they already exist in your body. However, these supplements can be useful if you’ve got a bacterial imbalance within your gut, although you can find probiotics naturally in many foods and drinks.

How do you know if you need a probiotic or prebiotic?

Prebiotics, which can be found in fiber supplements, are a type of fiber that nourishes and feeds probiotic gut bacteria. You may need a supplement containing both probiotics and prebiotics if you’re struggling with poor digestive health, irregular bowel movements, skin issues, or frequent illnesses.

What are the symptoms of an unhealthy gut?

Some key warning signs of bad gut health include bloating, stomach cramps, excess gas, extreme food cravings, fatigue, insomnia, skin irritation, and mood swings.

Conclusion

Probiotics aren’t only beneficial for those with constant digestive distress or illness – you may also need them if you are struggling with skin issues, fatigue, mood swings, or food intolerances. 

For those suffering from poor digestion specifically, you may benefit from using a supplement such as Bioma, which includes both pre and probiotics.

However, supplements aren’t safe or suitable for everyone, so always consult a healthcare professional before adding them to your routine.

Written by Edna Skopljak, MD
Edna Skopljak, MD, is a medical advisor for the Health Reporter, a general practitioner who also worked as a medical doctor at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology. In addition to clinical work, she has years of experience in medical research as an editor at a prestigious medical journal.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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