It is widely accepted that probiotics benefit the digestive system by helping to achieve a proper balance between good and bad bacteria. But you might not know that probiotics can also help in several other ways.
These are some of the most surprising health benefits of probiotics.
Reduced Levels of “Bad” Cholesterol
The American Heart Association published a study reporting that the Lactobacillus reuteri bacteria can lower levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in the blood.1 Researchers at Montreal’s McGill University found that this probiotic strain lowers the level of esters. Esters are cholesterol molecules that can become attached to fatty acids, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.2
Approximately half of the 127 adults with high cholesterol who participated in the study took a probiotic containing L. reuteri; the others took a placebo. After nine weeks, the group who took the L. reuteri probiotic had LDL cholesterol levels nearly 12 percent lower than the placebo group. They also had 6 percent fewer esters overall, and 8 percent fewer fatty acids saturated with esters.
The study showed that as little as 200 milligrams of the L. reuteri probiotic could have a significant effect on LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels.
May Regulate Blood Pressure
Evidence is mounting that probiotics may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. A study that appeared in the medical journal Hypertension involved analysis of nine previous studies that included more than 540 participants. Eight of the studies showed that probiotic use resulted in not only a drop in systolic blood pressure, but also in diastolic blood pressure. Results also showed that participants who used multiple types of probiotics saw greater reductions.3
Other Benefits of Probiotics You Might Not Have Realized
· Dental Health —
The Lactobacillus bacteria strain has also been shown to help kill harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth decay as well as gingivitis.4
· Skin Care —
According to one study, the Lactobacillus plantarum bacterium has been shown to be effective in patients suffering from acne5
· Reduction of Respiratory Infections –
Studies indicate that probiotics show promise in helping to reduce the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections. Researchers with Cochrane, an independent network of scientists and others involved in the healthcare field, analyzed studies that showed people who consumed probiotics suffered fewer infections of the upper respiratory tract than those who took placebos.6
· Feminine Health —
Harvard Medical School researchers conducted a study showing that probiotics may play an important role in maintaining a proper balance of bacteria in the vagina. As a result, women who use probiotics may have a better chance of warding off issues such as urinary tract infections or yeast infections.7
These are just a few examples of how probiotics may benefit the body in many ways outside of just helping the digestive system. As further research is conducted, it’s very likely that even more benefits will be uncovered in the future.
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