Author: S. Quinn Lambert | Read Time: 10 Mins | Date: October 1, 2020
The true benefits of probiotics are clouded by unregulated health claims and marketing schemes. One-time fixes and too-good-to-be-true solutions may seem easy and simple, but the truth is often a bit more nuanced. By focusing on science and clinical trials we can find the truth about probiotics.
Probiotics are a Powerful Tool
Probiotics are a truly powerful tool in creating and maintaining overall health and wellness. But, as with all healthy habits, consistency is key. Brushing your teeth for three hours once every two months is not an effective substitution for daily oral hygiene. Similarly, in order for probiotics to truly be effective they must be a part of your daily diet. Only then, can probiotics have a significantly positive impact on your health. Some of the body’s systems that benefit from taking daily high-quality probiotics include, but are not limited to, our gut, brain, and muscles.
A myriad of bacteria compete for survival in the gut microbiome. Some of these bacteria are beneficial and others are detrimental. Probiotics are intended to balance your gut microbiome by outcompeting the detrimental bacteria, supporting the existing beneficial bacteria, and making the probiotic’s beneficial bacteria a permanent resident. In order to colonize the gut with the probiotic’s beneficial bacteria the probiotic must be ingested daily.
What we eat, drink, and do affects our gut microbiome and can disrupt the good bacteria. One such example is the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria with certain characteristics but do not differentiate between the beneficial and detrimental bacteria with said characteristics. By taking a probiotic daily, we can ensure beneficial bacteria is still in our gut.
Research on the staying power of probiotics supports the need to take a probiotic daily. One study found that a certain strain of bacteria “persisted in the feces of 87% of volunteers four days [after terminating bacteria administration] and in 33% of subjects seven days [after terminating bacteria administration].”
Another study found that after ending the administration of bacteria, the amount of administered bacteria found in fecal samples significantly declined as time went on. The same study stated, “even strong adhesive properties and pronounced pH tolerance seems not to result in colonization and persistence of the [bacteria] for any length of time after administration of the cultures had been terminated.” 
Takeaway: Probiotics need to be taken daily in order to be effective.
Most obviously, probiotics can have a profound effect on the gut. Balancing the gut microbiome is a probiotic’s number one job. Of course, all the effects that stem from using probiotics are a result of balancing the gut microbiome. That being said, in this section we will only focus on the direct benefits to the gut.
Gut issue alleviation and prevention
First, balancing the gut microbiome can alleviate, and in some cases prevent, a collection of gut related disorders. For example, a 2006 study found that probiotics “significantly reduced antibiotic-associated [diarrhea] by 52%, reduced the risk of travellers' [diarrhea] by 8%, and that of acute [diarrhea] of diverse causes by 34%.” Probiotics also show promising results in the realm of IBS and IBD. The different compositions of probiotics used in various studies likely accounts for the variation of results in said studies; echoing the fact that all probiotics are not the same. In fact, a 2009 study using the De Simone Formulation (then under the brand name of VSL #3) recorded a 61% remission/response rate in pediatric patients with mild to moderate Ulcerative Colitis.
Furthermore, a 2018 study suggests that probiotics act as a kind of functional food and protect against cancer development. The study goes on to say:
Gut function benefits
Second, probiotics stimulate change in our GI tract through various mechanisms. Improvements to the functionality of the GI tract through the use of probiotics is no exception. A few of the changes to the functionality of the GI tract, stimulated by probiotic use, include improved gut barrier integrity and nutrient absorption.
Gut barrier integrity is important as the intestinal tract is the largest and most intimate interface between humans and the external environment. Impaired gut barrier integrity can lead to unwanted toxins and pathogens entering the body. A healthy and strong gut barrier can be compromised by something as simple as stress. Nevertheless, a 2010 study showed that Lactobacillus plantarum “enhanced intestinal barrier function by affecting the expression of genes in the tight junction signaling pathway in [healthy] intestinal epithelial cells.”
Additionally, probiotics can improve nutrient absorption in the gut. Being well nourished starts with choosing to eat nutritious foods and depends on your body’s ability to absorb and use those nutrients. One way probiotics improve nutrient absorption is through ameliorating issues like diarrhea and gut inflammation (IBS, IBD, etc.) as well as improving gut barrier integrity. Furthermore, a 2013 peer-reviewed article states, “Probiotics and prebiotics increase bioavailability of micronutrients through several mechanisms and therefore represent an avenue for potentially alleviating micronutrient deficiencies.”
Takeaway: Effective probiotics balance the gut microbiome and significantly benefit the GI system.
The gut and brain are directly connected. This connection is often referred to as the “gut-brain axis.” Balancing our gut microbiome benefits our brain. In fact, one study states that doing things to “promote a healthy [gut] microbiota, and avoiding factors that do the opposite, appears to be the most direct way of promoting brain health.”
A significant amount of preclinical evidence suggests that the gut microbiome and its metabolites, “are likely involved in modulating behaviors and brain processes, including stress responsiveness, emotional behavior, pain modulation, ingestive behavior, and brain biochemistry.” Probiotics have been found to beneficially affect the expression and abundance of significant brain signaling molecules, such as GABAAα2, through the balancing of the gut microbiome. Also, probiotics support healthy brain cognition and development.
For example, one study published in 2014 used the De Simone Formulation (once again under the brand name of VSL #3) found that the, “[De Simone Formulation] induced not only a change on gene expression, but also altered the expression of several proteins involved in aging and inflammation, indicating that modulation of these molecules may play a key role in the expression of brain genes.” 
Takeaway: Effective probiotics can have a beneficial effect on brain function and health.
Probiotics, as mentioned above, assist in proper nutrient absorption. Among the nutrients that are benefited by probiotic use is protein which is key for building and maintaining muscle. An effective probiotic can reduce muscle soreness, decrease muscle damage, and improve muscle recovery.
LYVECAP STRONG contains two amino acids (Leucine and Taurine),
key for building muscle, in addition to an effective and high-quality probiotic
As an example, a 2016 study analyzed and recorded the perceptions, athletic performance, and muscle damage following an exercise bout for 29 recreationally-trained males after two weeks of supplementation either with 20g of casein (protein) or 20g of casein plus probiotic (in this case, 1 billion CFU Bacillus coagulans). Results from this study yielded evidence that “probiotic supplementation in combination with protein tended to reduce indices of muscle damage, improve recovery, and maintain physical performance subsequent to damaging exercise.” 
In addition, a 2018 study “showed that probiotic supplementation significantly reduced postexercise blood lactate concentration.” Postexercise blood lactate concentration is a key indicator in measuring the amount of lactic acid production and accumulation in muscular cells. The delayed onset of muscle fatigue due to reduced lactic acid production and accumulation directly relates to improved muscle endurance and the ability to better sustain high performance levels.
Finally, the benefit to muscle from probiotic use is not only applicable to athletes. Every person uses muscle every day and as we age our muscle mass naturally declines. Maintaining and building muscle as we age allows us to continue being functionally fit and healthy, as well as reaping the multitude of benefits that come with being physically active.
Takeaway: An effective probiotic can assist in maintaining and building healthy muscle.
Effective probiotics can induce a multitude of benefits for the overall health and wellness of an individual. Three key areas of benefit from high-quality probiotic use include our gut, brain, and muscles. These areas of benefit are all derived from the probiotic’s ability to balance the gut microbiome.