Improving Your Gut Health with Probiotics
Writer: Wan SofaSyifa
Reviewed by: Fenny Lim, BSc. (Hons) Nutrition, UKM
“Eating probiotics is good for your gut health.” This is the unique selling point for all probiotics supplements and functional foods in the market. Your doctor and nutritionist might also tell you the same thing. What are the benefits of probiotics, and how do they help in improving your gut health?
What is Gut Health, and Why Does it Matter?
Gut health refers to the overall health conditions of your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), the main part of your digestive system. Your digestive system comprises of:
Your GI Tract – a series of connected hollow organs from your mouth to the anus. Your mouth (the starting point), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon, rectum, and anus (the endpoint) are all continuous parts of your GI tract . The GI tract’s main functions are to break down food, absorb nutrients, and excrete waste.
Your biliary tract – a series of organs such as your gallbladder, bile ducts, and related structures. The functions of the biliary system are draining waste products from the liver and releasing bile that helps break down fats during digestion .
Your pancreas – secretes digestive enzymes that help break down protein, fats, and carbohydrates. It also makes insulin for the bloodstream, which metabolizes sugar.
Your liver – processes the nutrients absorbed from the small intestine, secretes bile for digestion, and detoxifies harmful chemicals.
Since your gut is the first part of your digestive system and arguably the most important one, your gut health is crucial for your overall health. It is where you get the nutrients you need for every body part. You need these nutrients for growth, energy, and general well-being.
Improving Your Gut Health with Probiotics
Probiotics are often the go-to way to improve your gut health. Their long history of use can be traced back to Ancient Egypt in the form of fermentation, but it was in the 1900s that scientists began to link them with gut health. Elie Metchnikoff was the first person to link the presence of probiotics in yogurt with improved health and longevity in 1905 .
What are Probiotics?
Up to 1,000 discovered “good” microorganisms that work alongside your cells can be found inside your gut. They exist and proliferate naturally inside your body. Probiotics are external sources of these “good” microorganisms. They are only labeled as probiotics when these live microorganisms can show significant health benefits to your body when taken at a certain amount .
Common Probiotics Strains
Probiotics can generally be found either as bacteria (the most common) or yeasts. They are normally named by their specific strains, which include their genus, species, and subspecies, when applicable. Seven core strains are widely researched and used as probiotics include;
Sources of Probiotics
There are two main sources of probiotics: fermented food and dietary supplements. You can find probiotics in yogurt, cheese, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and some pickles for fermented foods. However, the probiotics in these foods might not be enough for you unless you take them often.
Image of probiotics food sources.
You can find probiotics supplements as capsules, powders, and liquids in the market. The most popular ones come as capsules and powders. Depending on the brand, the formulation of these supplements will use different probiotics strains, formulations, and dosages.
Because of this, the effectiveness of your probiotic supplements may differ. It is up to you to do your due diligence and buy the right product. Reading and understanding the probiotics supplement label is one way to do this.
A big difference between probiotics supplements and others in the market is the measurement unit used. Only “live” microorganisms are counted as probiotics, so the measurement used in probiotic supplements is colony-forming units (CFU). CFU shows how many probiotics are available per serving.
You can see the CFU on the label simplified as 1 x 109 for 1 billion CFU, 1 x 1010 for 10 billion CFU, or any other iteration. Some brands make it easier for you to directly write down the exact number of CFU on the label or as part of the packaging. Most probiotic supplements in the market normally have 1 to 10 billion CFU per dose; the higher-end brands might have up to 50 billion CFU or more.
You need to be aware that the number of CFU decreases with time, so the best practice is to look for probiotic supplements that disclose their number of CFU at the end of the product’s shelf life .
Benefits of Probiotics
We have established that probiotics can benefit your gut health. Numerous studies have been done since the 1900s to understand the full scope of what this means. Until now, most researchers agree that probiotics can be good for many conditions by improving your gut health.
Some of the linked benefits of probiotics are;
Reducing Diarrhea Symptoms
Diarrhea is when you have irregular bowel movements that cause loose or watery stools. It can be caused by bacteria or other microorganisms that react badly with your gut. A peer-reviewed study  on the effectiveness of probiotics in reducing diarrhea symptoms found that;
- Probiotics reduce the severity of the symptom
- Probiotics reduce the number of sick days
While taking probiotics may not entirely prevent you from having diarrhea because of the nature of the condition, it can help you recover faster and not feel as sick.
Reducing Gastritis Symptoms
Gastritis is when you experience stomach pains because your stomach linings are inflamed. This can be caused by an imbalance between your stomach acid and gut microbiota, especially when a bacterial infection happens. Left untreated, gastritis can lead to gastric ulcers (stomach ulcers), a condition where you have an open sore in your stomach linings.
Experts    believe that probiotics can reduce the symptoms of gastritis by balancing your gut microbiota, and a peer-reviewed study  found that probiotics can even help speed up the healing process of a person with gastric ulcers.
Boosting the Immune System
Your gut is home for around 70-80% of your immune system. It is where your immune cells rest and proliferate. It is also the first place where your immune system activates, especially when you unknowingly eat harmful bacteria or other microorganisms in your food.
Improving Skin Conditions
Eczema is a group of conditions that causes itchy, inflamed, and dried skin. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis.
Atopic dermatitis causes inflammation, dryness, and itchiness. It’s more common in children but can happen at any age . Although probiotics cannot provide direct treatment or prevent eczema, taking them can help;
- Reduce the severity of the symptoms
- Reduce the longevity of the symptoms
- Support the healing process
Reducing Allergy Symptoms
Allergies are your body’s unnatural reactions to normally harmless substances such as dust, pollen, and certain foods. Your immune system is directly involved in causing these unnatural reactions .
There are many different types of allergy, the most common being allergic rhinitis and contact dermatitis.
Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction that causes inflammation in your nasal passages. It causes you to have an itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, or any other area of the body. Other common symptoms are runny nose, sneezes, and watery eyes. You can trigger it either from allergens in the air particles or food .
Contact dermatitis is a form of skin allergy and only affects small patches of the skin at a time. It is also a form of eczema that causes similar symptoms. Contact dermatitis happens when your body comes into contact with allergens by touching them and also through the food you eat.
Probiotics may help reduce the severity of the symptoms and, when taken regularly, may help decrease the frequency of an allergic reaction .
Bear in mind that if you have severe, life-threatening allergic reactions, refer to your specialist and have the necessary medications, such as antihistamines or epinephrine, at the ready.
Probiotics vs. Prebiotics Supplements
Another word you will always hear with probiotics is prebiotics. You might think that prebiotics are another set of probiotic strains, but they are actually the “food” for your probiotics. Since probiotics are live microorganisms, they need their own “food” to function. Prebiotics, normally consisting of high-fiber foods, act as “food” for your probiotics.
When it comes to supplements, you can choose to vary your gut microbiota with probiotics or provide extra “food” for your existing “good” microbiota so they can proliferate themselves. Bear in mind that if you choose prebiotics supplements, you only increase your existing gut microbiota and might not be introducing new, more helpful strains. It is also a more time-consuming process because it relies on your body’s natural abilities.
CellLabs® EzyFlora - Robust Probiotics Formulation
Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®)
One of the most widely studied probiotic strains under lactobacillus. It has over 1,200 scientific publications and up to 300 clinical studies exploring its positive effects on your health. LGG® is known to reduce the severity of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, eczema and modulate the immune response.
Lactobacillus acidophilus (LA-5®)
It is also a strain under lactobacillus. It has over 150 scientific publications and up to 60 clinical studies. LA-5® may help regulate bowel movements, especially by reducing symptoms of diarrhea, supporting gastric ulcer healing and other digestive conditions.
Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. Paracaasei (L-CASEI 431®)
This third lactobacillus strain has around 80 scientific publications and 20 clinical studies under its belt. L-CASEI 431® is known to help reduce the severity of upper respiratory tract infections, modulate the immune response, and relieve common digestive conditions.
Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis (BB-12®)
A bifidobacterium strain, BB-12®, is one of this particular genus’s most widely studied strains. It has over 307 scientific publications and 180 clinical studies. It is known to help improve GI health and boost the immune system.
Apart from that, CellLabs® EzyFlora has a high CFU count of 50 billion CFU at the time of manufacture and 25 billion CFU at the end of its shelf life. It comes in capsule form using vegetable capsules for higher stability since the strains used have proven to be capable of withstanding stomach acid.
Should You Take CellLabs® EzyFlora?
If you have gastritis, stomach upsets, IBS, allergy, or eczema, we recommend taking our CellLabs® EzyFlora daily as a dietary supplement. It does not act as a medication or prescribed treatment, but it may help manage your conditions better and improve your quality of life.
We also suggest you take it if you are being treated for H. pylori infection. Two of the strains we use in CellLabs® EzyFlora, BB-12®, and LA-5®, help eradicate this harmful germ.
Even if you do not have any pre-existing conditions, you are welcome to take our CellLabs® EzyFlora as a probiotics supplement for gut health. Remember – healthy gut, healthy life.