A healthy bowel contains around 100 trillion microorganisms such as bacteria, according to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. The majority help to fight off unwelcome pathogens or aid in digestion. Eating probiotic bacteria adds to this army of "good" bacteria. Consuming probiotic bacteria doesn't provide much nutritional energy. However, the bacteria's positive activity in the gut can improve your digestion, making you feel more energetic.
Bacteria and microorganisms live in your large and small intestines. When you eat live bacteria that can thrive in your digestive tract, these are known as probiotics. Probiotics come in pill form or in natural food products such as yogurt, some milk drinks and sauerkraut. The probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus most commonly features in supplements and foods, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other forms of probiotic bacteria include Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardi.
The energy your body needs to operate comes mainly from food sources. So, anything that improves the efficiency of your digestive system is theoretically improving your ability to supply energy to your system. In addition, some of the more common methods of consuming probiotics contain food energy. For example, a 4-oz. tub of plain, low-fat yogurt contains 71 calories, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Calories are a measure of how much food energy a particular substance provides for your body. Probiotic yogurts therefore offer both healthy bacteria and energy.
Some gastrointestinal problems cause a slump in energy. For example, people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or the gut disorder Crohn's disease may experience lethargy, among other symptoms. Probiotics appear to help ease symptoms in some people with such conditions, though it's far from a cure. It may help you regain some energy by improving the gut's ability to handle and digest food. Similarly, diarrhea can knock your energy out completely. Probiotics can reduce the symptoms of diarrhea by up to 60 percent compared to a placebo, according to Harvard Medical School.
Many manufacturers of probiotic yogurts and drinks suggest taking one small bottle or carton per day. In terms of actual bacteria dosage, that's harder to measure. The University of Maryland suggests that if you just want to keep your gut healthy and your energy levels up, take between 1 and 15 billion colony forming units every day. As with any treatment, if you feel sick or notice any negative side-effects, stop taking the probiotics or reduce your dose.
- Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide; Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics; September 2005
- "Pediatric Views"; Understanding Pros and Cons of Probiotics; Athos Bousvaros, MD; February 2007
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Lactobacillus Acidophilus; May 2011
- USDA National Nutrient Database