When most people think about probiotics, they think gut health—for a good reason. Afterall, a diverse population of beneficial microbes keeps your GI system balanced and running smoothly—with a number of benefits for overall wellness. In fact, new research continues to expand on that list of benefits, showing just how important probiotics are for nearly every area of health.
To start, probiotics help strengthen your gut lining, aka your gut barrier. This barrier keeps large undigested food pieces, bacteria and other pathogens, toxins, and harmful invaders from leaking into your bloodstream and triggering an inflammatory reaction. In addition, probiotics create essential nutritional compounds including vitamins and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that play important roles in energy and overall health.
You’ve probably heard the saying, Health begins in the gut. And now we know why—thanks to the extensive research linking the gut microbiome to important markers of health and longevity. So while the extensive benefits of probiotics begin in your gut, they certainly don’t end there.
10 Proven Ways Probiotics Enhance Your Health
The human microbiome is a fast-growing area of research, with new discoveries continuing to expand on the benefits and treatment indications of probiotic supplementation.1 From helping to fight off infections, to weight loss, and even cancer prevention and treatment — a balanced, healthy gut microbiome is essential.
Here are ten ways that the right probiotic supplements can improve your health:
1. Manage and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Certain probiotics can significantly improve blood glucose balance in the body. Research shows the right probiotics can help transport sugar from the bloodstream (where it can wreak havoc if levels get too high) and into your cells for energy production. Studies show that probiotics help:
- Reduce fasting blood sugar2
- Reduce HbA1c, a marker of blood sugar control3
- Boost insulin sensitivity and control insulin resistance4
2. Balance Cholesterol
Your body needs just the right amount of cholesterol for optimal health and energy. Probiotics help keep cholesterol and triglycerides in balance by:
- Raising HDL (good cholesterol) levels5
- Balancing total cholesterol levels6
- Reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) levels7
- Lowering high triglyceride levels7
Specifically, the right probiotics fight unhealthy cholesterol through three specific mechanisms:8
- Create SCFAs that lower cholesterol production in the liver
- Metabolize bile acids, forcing the liver to use cholesterol to make more bile acids
- Consume cholesterol in the gut
3. Balance Blood Pressure
Research shows several ways that probiotic bacteria support healthy blood pressure:
- Help blood vessels stay flexible and elastic to handle variations in pressure9
- Reduce elevated blood pressure10
- Address hypertension to reduce the risk of complications11
4. Fight Cardiovascular Disease
In addition to balancing cholesterol and blood pressure, probiotics also support your cardiovascular system as a whole by:
- Reducing levels of a harmful compound called TMAO that’s associated with heart attacks and strokes12
- Controlling oxidative stress13
- Lowering inflammation by controlling pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines
5. Prevent Liver Disease
Probiotics are shown to support healthy liver function through several mechanisms:
- Reducing liver inflammation and improving liver health in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)14
- Reducing liver scarring (fibrosis) in the treatment of liver cirrhosis15
- Reducing disease severity in patients with end-stage liver failure16
- Helping to prevent and treat liver cancer17
6. Control Weight
Probiotics play a key role in gut health, appetite control and metabolism, so it’s no wonder they can have a dramatic impact on your weight. A number of clinical studies show how probiotics can work to:
- Prevent obesity18
- Promote weight loss19
- Lower BMI (body mass index)20
- Reduce waist measurements20
7. Improve Cognitive Function
The gut-brain axis is a direct pathway by which your GI system influences your neurological system and vice versa. Your gut bacteria can have a huge effect on your thinking and emotions, and a healthy population of beneficial microbes is shown to actively support brain health in a number of ways:
- Support memory and cognition21
- Prevent cognitive decline22
- Improve symptoms of depression and anxiety23,24
8. Strengthen Bones and Joints
Surprisingly, probiotics also have a big impact on joint comfort and musculoskeletal health. Beyond reducing inflammation – key for relieving joint pain – probiotics also:
- Increase bone turnover, where your body removes old, brittle bone cells and replaces them with fresh, healthy new bone cells25
- Reduce fracture healing time26
- Increase bone density27
- Reduce osteoarthritis pain28
9. Control Autoimmune Diseases
Your gut microbiome plays a huge role in regulating and balancing your immune responses. Immune system overreactions are the hallmark of autoimmune conditions, but research shows that taking probiotics can reduce autoimmune flare-ups and ease symptoms.29 Probiotics have been found helpful for a number of autoimmune conditions including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis30
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)31
- Multiple sclerosis32
10. Prevent and Treat Cancer
Probiotics are proving to be particularly important in the fight against cancer. Research shows the right probiotics can help prevent and treat cancer, and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, helping to improve outcomes. 34,35, 36,37 Probiotics show benefit in different types of cancer including:
The Right Probiotic Formula Matters
You likely won’t get this amazing range of benefits from just any probiotic you grab find in your local grocery store—even those that are refrigerated. That’s because clinical research shows that nearly half of people taking regular pill-based probiotics don’t experience any benefits. The probiotics simply pass through their digestive system without colonizing.
In my practice, I recommend a unique probiotic formula containing live clinically studied strains proven to deliver a broad-spectrum of healing benefits.
- B. longum42
- L. acidophilus43
- L. casei44
- L. rhamnosus45
- L. salivarius46
- L. lactis47
- B. lactis48
- S. thermophiles49
Each of these probiotic strains delivers targeted health benefits, and they are further enhanced in this formula by the addition of prebiotic nutrients, along with 19 organic digestive herbs. Patients report that this live-fermented liquid formula brings rapid relief, and improves long-term digestive health with significant benefits for other areas of health including mood, sleep, energy and more.
With all that we’re learning about probiotics today, it’s no wonder that these friendly flora are earning widespread recognition as some of the most powerful natural health solutions for long-term wellness and vitality.
1. Aponte M, Murru N, Shoukat M. Therapeutic, Prophylactic, and Functional Use of Probiotics: A Current Perspective. Front Microbiol. 2020;11:562048. Published 2020 Sep 11. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2020.562048
2. Kocsis, T., Molnár, B., Németh, D. et al. Probiotics have beneficial metabolic effects in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Sci Rep 10, 11787 (2020).
3. Yao K, Zeng L, He Q, Wang W, Lei J, Zou X. Effect of Probiotics on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis of 12 Randomized Controlled Trials. Med Sci Monit. 2017;23:3044-3053.
4. Kim YA, Keogh JB, Clifton PM. Probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics and insulin sensitivity. Nutr Res Rev. 2018 Jun;31(1):35-51.
5.. Li C, Li X, Han H, Cui H, Peng M, Wang G, Wang Z. Effect of probiotics on metabolic profiles in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Jun;95(26):e4088. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004088. PMID: 27368052; PMCID: PMC4937966.
6. Wang L, Guo MJ, Gao Q, et al. The effects of probiotics on total cholesterol: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(5):e9679.
7. Xiao JZ, Kondo S, Takahashi N, Miyaji K, Oshida K, Hiramatsu A, Iwatsuki K, Kokubo S, Hosono A. Effects of Milk Products Fermented by Bifidobacterium longum on Blood Lipids in Rats and Healthy Adult Male Volunteers. J. Dairy Sci. 2003;86:2452–2461.
8. Saini R, Saini S, Sharma S. Potential of probiotics in controlling cardiovascular diseases. J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2010;1(4):213-214. doi:10.4103/0975-3583.74267
9. Menni C, Lin C, Cecelja M, Mangino M, Matey-Hernandez ML, Keehn L, Mohney RP, Steves CJ, Spector TD, Kuo CF, Chowienczyk P, Valdes AM. Gut microbial diversity is associated with lower arterial stiffness in women. Eur Heart J. 2018 Jul 1;39(25):2390-2397. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehy226. PMID: 29750272; PMCID: PMC6030944.
10. Khalesi S, Sun J, Buys N, Jayasinghe R. Effect of probiotics on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Hypertension. 2014 Oct;64(4):897-903. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03469. Epub 2014 Jul 21. PMID: 25047574.
11. Qi, D., Nie, XL. & Zhang, JJ. The effect of probiotics supplementation on blood pressure: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Lipids Health Dis 19, 79 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12944-020-01259-x.
12. Din, A.U., Hassan, A., Zhu, Y. et al. Amelioration of TMAO through probiotics and its potential role in atherosclerosis. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 103, 9217–9228 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-019-10142-4.
13. Mohammadi AA, Jazayeri S, Khosravi-Darani K, et al. Effects of Probiotics on Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Factors in Petrochemical Workers: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Int J Prev Med. 2015;6:82. Published 2015 Sep 1. doi:10.4103/2008-7802.164146.
14. Perumpail BJ, Li AA, John N, et al. The Therapeutic Implications of the Gut Microbiome and Probiotics in Patients with NAFLD. Diseases. 2019;7(1):27. Published 2019 Feb 25. doi:10.3390/diseases7010027
15. Lee NY, Suk KT. The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Liver Cirrhosis Treatment. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;22(1):199. Published 2020 Dec 28. doi:10.3390/ijms22010199.
16. Dhiman RK, Rana B, Agrawal S, Garg A, Chopra M, Thumburu KK, Khattri A, Malhotra S, Duseja A, Chawla YK. Probiotic VSL#3 reduces liver disease severity and hospitalization in patients with cirrhosis: a randomized, controlled trial. Gastroenterology. 2014 Dec;147(6):1327-37.e3.
17. Wan MLY, El-Nezami H. Targeting gut microbiota in hepatocellular carcinoma: probiotics as a novel therapy. Hepatobiliary Surg Nutr. 2018;7(1):11-20. doi:10.21037/hbsn.2017.12.07.
18. Luoto R, Kalliomäki M, Laitinen K, Isolauri E. The impact of perinatal probiotic intervention on the development of overweight and obesity: follow-up study from birth to 10 years. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Oct;34(10):1531-7. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2010.50. Epub 2010 Mar 16. PMID: 20231842.
19. Borgeraas H, Johnson LK, Skattebu J, Hertel JK, Hjelmesaeth J. Effects of probiotics on body weight, body mass index, fat mass and fat percentage in subjects with overweight or obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obes Rev. 2018 Feb;19(2):219-232. doi: 10.1111/obr.12626. Epub 2017 Oct 18. PMID: 29047207.
20. Tomé-Castro XM, Rodriguez-Arrastia M, Cardona D, Rueda-Ruzafa L, Molina-Torres G, Roman P. Probiotics as a therapeutic strategy in obesity and overweight: a systematic review. Benef Microbes. 2021 Jan 17:1-12. doi: 10.3920/BM2020.0111. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33459204.
21. Arora K, Green M, Prakash S. The Microbiome and Alzheimer’s Disease: Potential and Limitations of Prebiotic, Synbiotic, and Probiotic Formulations. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2020 Dec 14;8:537847. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2020.537847. PMID: 33384986; PMCID: PMC7771210.
22. Ruiz-Gonzalez C, Roman P, Rueda-Ruzafa L, Rodriguez-Arrastia M, Cardona D. Effects of probiotics supplementation on dementia and cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis of preclinical and clinical studies. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020 Dec 5:110189. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2020.110189. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33285265.
23. Zagórska A, Marcinkowska M, Jamrozik M, Wiśniowska B, Paśko P. From probiotics to psychobiotics – the gut-brain axis in psychiatric disorders. Benef Microbes. 2020 Dec 2;11(8):717-732. doi: 10.3920/BM2020.0063. Epub 2020 Nov 16. PMID: 33191776.
24. 1P. Gualtieri, M. Marchetti, G. Cioccoloni, A. De Lorenzo, L. Romano, A. Cammarano, C. Colica, R. Condò, L. Di Renzo, ”Psychobiotics Regulate the Anxiety Symptoms in Carriers of Allele A of IL-1β Gene: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial”, Mediators of Inflammation, vol. 2020, Article ID 2346126, 11 pages, 2020.
25. Abboud M, Papandreou D. Gut Microbiome, Probiotics and Bone: An Updated Mini Review. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019;7(3):478-481. Published 2019 Feb 11. doi:10.3889/oamjms.2019.047.
26. Lei M, Hua LM, Wang DW. The effect of probiotic treatment on elderly patients with distal radius fracture: a prospective double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised clinical trial. Benef Microbes. 2016 Nov 30;7(5):631-637. doi: 10.3920/BM2016.0067. Epub 2016 Sep 16. PMID: 27633174.
27. Collins FL, Rios-Arce ND, Schepper JD, Parameswaran N, McCabe LR. The Potential of Probiotics as a Therapy for Osteoporosis. Microbiol Spectr. 2017;5(4):10.1128/microbiolspec.BAD-0015-2016. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.BAD-0015-2016.
28. Taye I, Bradbury J, Grace S, Avila C. Probiotics for pain of osteoarthritis; An N-of-1 trial of individual effects. Complement Ther Med. 2020 Nov;54:102548. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102548. Epub 2020 Aug 29. PMID: 33183666.
29. Liu Y, Alookaran JJ, Rhoads JM. Probiotics in Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1537. Published 2018 Oct 18. doi:10.3390/nu10101537.
30. Zamani B, Golkar HR, Farshbaf S, Emadi-Baygi M, Tajabadi-Ebrahimi M, Jafari P, Akhavan R, Taghizadeh M, Memarzadeh MR, Asemi Z. Clinical and metabolic response to probiotic supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Int J Rheum Dis. 2016 Sep;19(9):869-79.
31. Vemuri R, Gundamaraju R, Eri R. Role of Lactic Acid Probiotic Bacteria in IBD. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(16):2352-2355. doi: 10.2174/1381612823666170207100025. PMID: 28176664.
32. Tankou SK, Regev K, Healy BC, Tjon E, Laghi L, Cox LM, Kivisäkk P, Pierre IV, Hrishikesh L, Gandhi R, Cook S, Glanz B, Stankiewicz J, Weiner HL. A probiotic modulates the microbiome and immunity in multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol. 2018 Jun;83(6):1147-1161.
33. Zhang H, Liao X, Sparks JB, Luo XM. Dynamics of gut microbiota in autoimmune lupus. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014;80(24):7551-7560. doi:10.1128/AEM.02676-14.
34. Górska A, Przystupski D, Niemczura MJ, Kulbacka J. Probiotic Bacteria: A Promising Tool in Cancer Prevention and Therapy. Curr Microbiol. 2019;76(8):939-949. doi:10.1007/s00284-019-01679-8.
35. Śliżewska K, Markowiak-Kopeć P, Śliżewska W. The Role of Probiotics in Cancer Prevention. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Dec 23;13(1):20. doi: 10.3390/cancers13010020. PMID: 33374549; PMCID: PMC7793079.
36. Tian Y, Li M, Song W, Jiang R, Li YQ. Effects of probiotics on chemotherapy in patients with lung cancer. Oncol Lett. 2019;17(3):2836-2848. doi:10.3892/ol.2019.9906.
37. Lau HCH, Sung JJ, Yu J. Gut microbiota: impacts on gastrointestinal cancer immunotherapy. Gut Microbes. 2021 Jan-Dec;13(1):1-21. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1869504. PMID: 33435800.
38. Ding S, Hu C, Fang J, Liu G. The Protective Role of Probiotics against Colorectal Cancer. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2020 Dec 9;2020:8884583. doi: 10.1155/2020/8884583. PMID: 33488940; PMCID: PMC7803265.
39. Sampsell K, Hao D, Reimer RA. The Gut Microbiota: A Potential Gateway to Improved Health Outcomes in Breast Cancer Treatment and Survivorship. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Dec 3;21(23):9239. doi: 10.3390/ijms21239239. PMID: 33287442; PMCID: PMC7731103.
40. Sha S, Ni L, Stefil M, Dixon M, Mouraviev V. The human gastrointestinal microbiota and prostate cancer development and treatment. Investig Clin Urol. 2020;61(Suppl 1):S43-S50. doi:10.4111/icu.2020.61.S1.S43.
42.Singh J, Rivenson A, Tomita M, Shimamura S, Ishibashi N, Reddy BS. Bifidobacterium longum, a lactic acid-producing intestinal bacterium inhibits colon cancer and modulates the intermediate biomarkers of colon carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis. 1997 Apr;18(4):833-41. doi: 10.1093/carcin/18.4.833. PMID: 9111222.
43. Perumpail BJ, Li AA, John N, et al. The Therapeutic Implications of the Gut Microbiome and Probiotics in Patients with NAFLD. Diseases. 2019;7(1):27. Published 2019 Feb 25. doi:10.3390/diseases7010027.
44. Khalili L, Alipour B, Asghari Jafar-Abadi M, et al. The Effects of Lactobacillus casei on Glycemic Response, Serum Sirtuin1 and Fetuin-A Levels in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Iran Biomed J. 2019;23(1):68-77. doi:10.29252/.23.1.68.
45. Khalili L, Alipour B, Asghari Jafar-Abadi M, et al. The Effects of Lactobacillus casei on Glycemic Response, Serum Sirtuin1 and Fetuin-A Levels in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Iran Biomed J. 2019;23(1):68-77. doi:10.29252/.23.1.68.
46. Rajkumar H, Kumar M, Das N, Kumar SN, Challa HR, Nagpal R. Effect of Probiotic Lactobacillus salivarius UBL S22 and Prebiotic Fructo-oligosaccharide on Serum Lipids, Inflammatory Markers, Insulin Sensitivity, and Gut Bacteria in Healthy Young Volunteers: A Randomized Controlled Single-Blind Pilot Study. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2015 May;20(3):289-98. doi: 10.1177/1074248414555004. Epub 2014 Oct 20. PMID: 25331262.
47. Komano Y, Shimada K, Naito H, et al. Efficacy of heat-killed Lactococcus lactis JCM 5805 on immunity and fatigue during consecutive high intensity exercise in male athletes: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):39. Published 2018 Aug 2. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0244-9.
48. Kim SH, Huh CS, Choi ID, Jeong JW, Ku HK, Ra JH, Kim TY, Kim GB, Sim JH, Ahn YT. The anti-diabetic activity of Bifidobacterium lactis HY8101 in vitro and in vivo. J Appl Microbiol. 2014 Sep;117(3):834-45. doi: 10.1111/jam.12573. Epub 2014 Jul 14. PMID: 24925305.
49. Lyu JL, Wang TM, Chen YH, et al. Oral intake of Streptococcus thermophilus improves knee osteoarthritis degeneration: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Heliyon. 2020;6(4):e03757. Published 2020 Apr 25. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03757