Many of us have heard the term 'probiotics' tossed around by doctors or peers, or plastered on labels at the local grocery store touting benefits of digestion and beyond. But what exactly are probiotics, and what part do they play in a healthy diet? Read on as we discuss the benefits and growing research around this beneficial belly bacteria.
Simply put, probiotics are the "good bacteria"1—the little guys that keep your gut health in tip-top shape, helping to balance the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your body. Your body needs an adequate amount of positive bacteria to stay healthy, so probiotics, whether occurring naturally in food or supplement form, may potentially boost your overall well-being2. The most widely known food source of probiotics is yogurt; others include some cheeses and other dairy products3. Another source—Kombucha—a drink rising in popularity, is also loaded with the beneficial bacteria.
Getting enough probiotics benefits your body in a number of ways, including promoting efficient digestion4. Because they contribute to the makeup of your gut health, probiotics may help monitor appetite and digestion from the inside5. Keeping your digestive system firing properly ensures that your body absorbs and processes all the key nutrients needed for healthy digestion and metabolism6—two things that also aid in maintaining a healthy weight.
What’s more, new research7 indicates there may be a mix of bacteria in your gut that may help—or hinder—your weight loss efforts. The study looked at how gut bacteria works to turn the parts of food you can’t digest into energy you can use—and suggests, depending on the mix of bacteria you have, that they could impact how many calories are produced.8 So depending on your microorganisms’ efficiency, your own gut bacteria may be supplying you with additional, unwanted calories. While the researchers acknowledge these findings are preliminary, they concluded the development of new probiotics might help further individualize dietary weight loss plans in the future.
Another potential health benefit from probiotics is its ability to reduce inflammation levels9. Chronic, high levels of inflammation in the body can impact digestion, the immune system and potentially the onset of a variety of diseases10. Probiotics are often considered an important component of promoting healthy digestion and while research is limited, findings have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms in conditions like irritable bowel syndrome11. By minimizing the inflammatory response inside your body, probiotics may help your system continue to process, absorb and excrete foods the way it should.
While more research on probiotics is needed to fully understand all of the health benefits, adding foods into your routine such as yogurt with live and active cultures is a great way to help keep your gut happy and your digestive process running smoothly.
For more information on how Jenny Craig can help you along your weight loss journey, contact your local neighborhood Jenny Craig center for a free appointment.
Make sure to discuss with a health professional before adding any new supplements or vitamins to your diet.
 “What Are Probiotics?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Apr. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/what-are-probiotics/art-20232589.
 Kobyliak, Nazarii, et al. Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761174/.
 MacKenzie, Macaela. “Probiotics May Not Help You Lose Weight-but Prebiotics Might.” Prevention, Prevention, 14 June 2018, www.prevention.com/weight-loss/a21528828/probiotics-weight-loss/.
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple.
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Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig