Evidence How Probiotics Improve Liver Health Is Piling Up
8 minute read
Microbes help promote efficient digestion and support a healthy immune system. But did you also know that they help your liver? As awareness has increased for the importance of your gut bacteria, research has expanded to discover what other benefits they may have.
Recent studies have shown that your friendly microbes support more than just the gut currently hosting them. Your liver health can be improved, too.
Beyond Your Gut
Extensive research has been done as to the benefits of probiotics on gut health, but it seems that the benefits extend beyond your gastrointestinal tract. The vast population of microbes living in your gut is supported by the daily consumption of probiotics.
The stronger the microbe community, the healthier you are.
Probiotics have increased in popularity as we seek ways to improve our health. The reliance we have on over-the-counter medications is a testament to how much we value our health.
| Related: Probiotics Boost Your Immune System |
There seems to be a medicine for every ailment and we reach for them without hesitation to prevent any decline in our health. Unfortunately, these medications can have serious side effects on the health of your liver.
Drugs that contain acetaminophen cause serious liver damage over time and even death while an increased amount of free radicals causes oxidative stress, which can essentially destroy your liver.
These new studies have found that a probiotic regimen helps to protect your liver when these medications are being taken. Mice that were treated with acetaminophen drugs had less liver damage when they were also taking daily probiotics.
Probiotics boost the performance of your natural gut bacteria and enhance their antioxidant powers. This provides protection for your liver when you are taking medication. Your liver is the main hub for removing toxins and plays an important role in converting food to energy.
| Related: Yogurt vs. Supplements: Which Is Better? |
Because of its position downstream of your digestive tract, it makes sense that the two organs are both protected by probiotics. It also seems that probiotics help to reduce your risk for fatty liver disease.
Obesity and diabetes can cause fat to accumulate around your liver. When probiotics are regularly consumed, the amount of fat collected around the liver is significantly lowered. Probiotics cannot cure liver disease, but they certainly can help to support its health and encourage optimal functioning.
The Right Probiotics for You
Your intestinal flora keeps you healthy, so it is wise to take care of them. Eating the right prebiotic foods and including probiotics in your daily plan is the best way to ensure they stay in optimal form.
To enhance your liver health (and overall health) you can start taking a probiotic supplement every day.
| Related: How to Create an Ideal Probiotics Schedule |
Be sure to choose a name brand with quality ingredients. You also want a probiotic that contains several different strains. The probiotic you get needs to be capsulated so that it makes it through your stomach acid and can reach your gut where it is needed.
If the idea of a daily supplement does not suit you, there are several natural sources for healthy probiotics that you can add to your diet today.
This is one of the most popular choices of natural probiotics, but you need to be careful of the kind you choose. Many are filled with sugar and syrup, so make sure you pick yogurts that contain live cultures for maximum probiotic benefits.
| Related: A Gut-Healthy Homemade Yogurt Recipe |
Beware of yogurts that claim to be healthy and “low-fat” because these often contain a lot of hidden sugar. Sugar just happens to be the favored food of bad bacteria. Yogurt is only beneficial as your gut bacteria are balanced in favor of the beneficial strains.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk drink made with cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast. It is often described as a cross between milk and yogurt but is an easy way to get the probiotics you need. Drink it plain or mixed with fruit as a smoothie. Even though yogurt is the preferred choice for probiotics in the Western world, kefir is actually a better source.
Popular in Japanese culture, miso soup is a tofu and vegetable broth that is low in calories and high in protein and probiotics. You can get this from most supermarkets and any Asian food market, and it is a welcome treat from normal canned soups.
Miso not only contains probiotics and protein, but it is also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients including manganese, copper, and vitamin K. Studies have recently found that miso soup consumption has been linked to a reduction in risk for breast cancer.
Popular in Korean dishes, kimchi is fermented, pickled cabbage that has been mixed with spices, ginger, garlic, and red chili pepper flakes. This side dish is full of probiotics as well as riboflavin and iron, making it a healthy addition to any meal. It is the lactic acid bacteria in kimchi that helps to improve and enhance your digestive health, not to mention the fiber found in the cabbage.
It may not seem like a likely source for probiotics, but dark chocolate has what you’re looking for and also takes care of any sweet craving you may have. Full of antioxidants and probiotics, dark chocolate supports the health of your digestive tract as well as rids your body of free radicals. Make sure you choose the bars with higher cocoa content, ideally around 70 percent.
Soy naturally contains probiotics, but the soy milk products in the store also contain added live cultures. This is a great solution for those who are lactose intolerant, and it provides additional benefits to regular dairy. Make sure you check the labels first to get a product that contains live and active cultures in order to get the greatest probiotic benefits.
The Bottom Line
Probiotics are a great way to support your natural community of gut flora. In return, they provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits throughout your body. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease affects millions worldwide so this new information could benefit many.
While healthy lifestyle choices are always the best way to maintain optimal health, probiotics can certainly help ensure that your liver enjoys good health.