As research continues, there is growing interest in how gut bacteria like probiotics impact the rest of our bodies. Still, probiotics are more than a health buzzword - these incredible microorganisms help maintain balance in the gut and even affect immunity, mood, and digestion. However, the benefits of probiotics extend beyond the gut to other crucial organs, such as the liver. With this in mind, we’ll explore how probiotics can promote liver health and reduce liver-related conditions. Additionally, we’ll discuss how you can choose the right probiotic supplements to support your health and flourish from within.
Before learning how probiotics affect liver health, it’s vital to understand what they are and why they matter. Probiotics are sometimes referred to as ‘good bacteria’, but there’s more to them than this. For instance, probiotics are mainly bacteria but are also made up of other microorganisms like yeasts. These reside naturally in our gut and play a fundamental role in balancing our microbiome.
Our gut microbiome comprises fungi, bacteria, viruses and many other microbes living symbiotically with our bodies. This diverse, living community coexists in harmony, forming an ecosystem that’s essential for good digestion, metabolism and immunity. Probiotics are part of the trillions of microorganisms in our gut, and they help to increase the population of good bacteria while suppressing harmful ones. Additionally, probiotics aren’t just found in our gut - fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir are all probiotic-rich. When we consume probiotics through food or supplements, they colonise the gastrointestinal tract and begin working alongside the existing microflora. In turn, they enhance our beneficial bacteria, which contributes to better wellness all around.
The Impact of Probiotics on Liver Health
At first glance, it may seem that probiotics have little to do with liver health - after all, they reside in the gut. Still, the liver is a large and vital organ in the body, dealing with nutrient storage, detoxification, metabolic function and more. When the liver suffers stress or injury, fibrosis and inflammation may occur and cause severe knock-on effects. Notably, inflammation and fibrosis can contribute to fatty liver diseases and even cirrhosis. This is where probiotics and liver health are connected. These microorganisms balance gut flora populations and activity, which can influence liver function by reducing inflammation.
Probiotics produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have anti-inflammatory properties. These can help alleviate liver inflammation and support liver regeneration. Additionally, probiotics can also improve our gut barrier and minimise harmful elements entering the bloodstream, thereby reducing the liver’s workload. What’s more, probiotics can combat liver fibrosis. Specific strains prevent hepatic stellate cells (specialised liver cells) from activating, which are involved in fibrosis. Since probiotics inhibit this process, they can slow or even reverse fibrosis and enhance liver health.
Probiotic Strains Beneficial for Liver Health
While research in this area is still ongoing, several probiotic strains have shown potential for supporting liver health. Let’s take a look at these below.
Bifidobacterium breve: This strain plays a large role in strengthening and maintaining the gut barrier, which can reduce the likelihood of toxins entering and causing inflammation. In this way, it can protect the liver from harmful substances and damage, allowing it to function optimally.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Known for its immune-modulating properties, this probiotic strain has shown promise in reducing liver inflammation and minimising non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) symptoms. By balancing and protecting the gut’s microbiome, lactobacillus rhamnosus may also reduce endotoxins and other damaging substances travelling from the gut to the liver.
Saccharomyces boulardii: Though technically a yeast, s. boulardii is considered a probiotic due to its beneficial effects on gut health. Its anti-inflammatory potential also supports the liver since liver health is closely related to overall inflammation levels. Further, s. boulardii is capable of binding to and neutralising specific toxins, stopping them from reaching the liver and affecting its function.
Bacillus subtilis: This is a beneficial spore-forming bacterium that can support the immune system by promoting varied gut bacteria. In turn, a thriving immune system protects the liver from pathogens, infections and inflammation. Some bacillus subtilis strains also create enzymes that help the gut detoxify compounds. By supporting detoxification, it can minimise stress on the liver.
Choosing the right Probiotic Supplements
There’s a vast amount of probiotic supplements available, which can make it challenging to choose the right one for you. Here are some suggestions to help you select a high-quality, effective supplement for your gut and liver:
Strain Selection: The best probiotics for liver health should include a variety of strains. This way, the supplement will combine and maximise its benefits, making it a more effective way to consume probiotics. That’s why our Multi Strain Biotic contains fifteen different bio-live cultures combined with natural botanicals for an added wellness boost.
Strength: It’s important to choose a probiotic supplement that’s sufficiently potent, and you can check the colony-forming units (CFUs) count to do so. Most supplements provide this on the label, but it’s worth noting that higher CFUs don’t always guarantee better results. Alongside the CFU, you can also look out for the percentage of bio-live cultures present in the supplement.
Quality and Viability: Probiotics are delicate microorganisms, so it’s crucial that they remain viable to be effective. That’s why it’s best to select high-quality probiotics that are viable for the length of time it takes to finish the supply. Our liquid probiotic supplement is hand-brewed locally in the South West of England, guaranteeing the finest quality and most effective results.
Additional Ingredients: Some supplements might contain added ingredients, such as sugars, chemicals or preservatives. Opt for supplements that are free from artificial ingredients and additives, as these can compromise the effectiveness of the probiotics. Instead, we use natural plant-based nutrients, such as aloe vera, ginger and zinc, to enhance our supplement’s potency. What’s more, our all-natural supplement is free from sugars and gluten, and we never add chemical substances or flavourings.
Evidently, maintaining a healthy gut is essential for the whole body, but it also promotes better liver health. This is because the gut and liver are closely interconnected via the gut-liver axis. Through probiotics, we can help our gut microbiomes flourish and relieve our livers from additional damage and stress. In fact, probiotic foods and supplements can help us manage and avoid liver conditions while strengthening our gut and immunity. As with any supplement, consult a healthcare practitioner if you feel unsure about taking probiotics or have existing liver issues and concerns. Still, by choosing the right probiotics, we can support our livers, boost our overall health, and progress on our wellness journeys.