PROBIOTICS! Many a time, you might have come across this word in several packaging or commercials while going through a health magazine or surfing the internet.
Back at home, when you explain your “blown out” stomach problems to your mom, she hands over a bowl of yogurt to you. Also, when you share the deepest secrets about your bloated stomach with your friend, he or she refers probiotic supplements to you.
What this buzz is really all about? Why everyone is recommending you take this thing? What are the alternatives to yogurt and how to grab them?
Well, to find the solution to all your curiosity about probiotics, read the full article. Because it covers a holistic idea about probiotics, the benefits associated, and how you can find it. So, lets dive-in!
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria or living organisms that provide an array of health benefits when ingested in adequate amounts. Usually, they are bacteria, but even some kinds of yeasts can function like probiotics. Mostly, probiotics are found in many sites of the human body such as digestive tract, mouth, etc.
As a matter of fact, the digestive tract in humans is home to a vast population of different types of yeasts and bacteria each with a function. Furthermore, the community of different microbiota is what you can refer to as gut flora. This community can work well if the bacterial or yeast strains are in balance. Each of them has some function to carry out in order to keep your body healthy.
When there is good, there will be evil! Sounds familiar, right? Similarly, the bacteria present in your system are both good and bad. Further, if the population gets low for good bacteria, the bad ones start multiplying when left unchecked.
Meanwhile, you might be taking antibiotics in order to kill harmful bacteria and even use lotions and soaps to prevent it. Given such circumstances, it becomes quite a tricky thing to understand the use of probiotics.
Speaking of good and bad bacteria, the wrong bacteria present in the wrong place can cause a lot of health issues. On the contrary, the right bacteria present in the right place can keep your body healthy. This is where the concept of probiotics comes into the picture.
The word “Probiotic” originated by combining two Greek words, “Pro” and “Biotic”. And, “Pro” means promoting while “Biotic” means life. In the 20th century, Elie Metchnikoff, also known as the “Father of Probiotics” observed something significant. He found that the Bulgarian dwellers lived to quite a very old age despite the harsh climate and extreme poverty.
Furthermore, as per his theories, health could be enhanced, and aging could possibly be delayed. It could be achieved by the manipulation of the intestinal microbiome with good bacteria from sour milk. Since that time, various researches have continued to support his findings.
In October 2013, ISAPP or the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics organized a summit of scientific and clinical experts. It was held to re-examine the overall concept of probiotics.
Different Probiotic Bacteria:
You can find an array of different bacteria that offer health benefits. The most common groups of such bacteria comprise of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Furthermore, each of these groups include different species with many strains.
Apart from this, there are some supplements also known as multi-probiotics or broad-spectrum probiotics which combine several species incorporating in the same product. Some of the essential organisms that must include in your probiotic supplements are:
B. longum has vast applications as probiotics as it is considered to be beneficial for gastrointestinal health, infections, lactose tolerance, etc.
Thus, keep these aspects in mind while choosing probiotic supplements online or offline. Think about what results you actually want out of these “friendly-bacteria” before making your choice.
Benefits of Probiotics
The major benefit of probiotics is to keep the population of good bacteria maintained. As a result, bad bacteria or yeasts cannot take over your gut flora.
There are various reasons where the population of good bacteria in your system can be decreased. Such reasons are antibiotics, chlorinated water, and food containing herbicides or pesticides. Additionally, good bacteria can be decreased due to stress, colon hydrotherapy, chemotherapy or radiation, or in surgeries.
Therefore, it becomes crucial for you to repopulate the digestive tract by taking probiotics that can maintain good bacteria for good digestion.
Another health condition that can possibly be influenced by probiotics is allergies in children. As per a research, it was found that taking probiotics during pregnancy might prevent allergy development in children.(1)
Taking probiotics might help ease gas and bloating in IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. Because there are some researches available encompassing the benefits of taking probiotics on IBS.(2)
Particularly, symptoms like gas or bloating seems to ease in the findings after taking probiotics.
So far, you have read about the benefits of probiotics in different conditions. Now, you can add one more to it. Yes! Because there are some researches that show its positive effects on anxiety and depression as well by reducing the symptoms of stress.(3)
However, any mental health condition must be treated by qualified professionals, of course! But probiotics might provide a holistic approach in stress management by adding a risk-free solution.
Another benefit of taking probiotics is to prevent infections of the urinary tract. In order to observe the efficacy of probiotics, women were given a probiotic supplement for 5 days daily. Gradually, they started giving them the supplements for 10 regular weeks.
As per the study, the women who took the probiotic supplements had lower recurrent UTI rates during that time.(4)
Are you dealing with acne? Do you have skin issues? If yes, then here comes the good news for you. Because, probiotics are researched to have good results in acne, eczema, and rosacea. So, all you have to do is take probiotics to witness a difference!(5)
Furthermore, studies also encompass that probiotics when taken by mothers during pregnancy and by infants after their birth for 6 months, can diminish the chances of eczema development in children.(6)
It is indeed essential to have the right microbe community in your gut. Besides, it is also an important part of the early-stage development of infants and affects the development of their immune system as well.
Furthermore, probiotics can act as an immuno-modulator for adults. Now, the question arises as to how does this happen? Precisely, by taking probiotics, natural antibodies can be produced. Apart from this, it also stimulates the activity of some immune cells, for instance, T-cells and dendritic cells.(7)
Now, you are quite familiar with the fact that probiotics are an excellent alternative for you when you want to improve your digestive health. Nevertheless, researchers are exploring different ways where probiotics can help in regulating blood pressure. However, they have found only a slight positive effect of probiotics on this aspect.(8)
Likewise, studies are going on currently to observe the effects of probiotics in regulating cholesterol. And as per studies, probiotics seem to possess certain beneficial effects for regulating blood cholesterol. Researchers reflect that probiotics can possibly lower LDL, the “bad cholesterol”, and total cholesterol as well.(9)
Several diseases, immune responses, and allergic reactions are linked with inflammation. Furthermore, it is the root cause of all these problems.
Since probiotics are studied to provide health benefits so far, researchers nowadays look for different ways to extend its help. In one of those researches, they have found that probiotics could be helpful in reducing the reaction or its causes that triggered inflammation in different ways.(10)
There are so many people out there who have issues concerning lactose intolerance. It is common because many people are not able to produce lactase, an enzyme needed to break down lactose in dairy products and milk.
In order to help in this condition, probiotics can turn out to be of great help. Because probiotics can break down, lactose through enzyme lactase, before its reach to your colon. As a result, you can better digest dairy products or milk.(11)
In addition, probiotics can also help adults allergic to dairy products. However, there is no conclusive evidence available to support this claim.
Since the major benefits of probiotics are on promoting digestive health, researches explored to span their wings wider in different health conditions as well. As such, there are some research revealing the positive effects of probiotics on ulcerative colitis and its symptoms.(12)
Furthermore, this research cites that probiotics can possibly alleviate such symptoms. They do so by populating health-friendly bacteria in your digestive tract that can possibly help you in this condition.
Many a time, people encounter the onset of sudden diarrhoea due to a variety of factors like parasites, bacteria or viruses. In this situation, taking probiotics might save yourself from these “uninvited guests”.
Researchers have shown promising results of probiotics to reduce the duration as well as the severity of infectious diarrhoea.(13)
Similarly, if you underwent an antibiotic course, the common reaction you might experience is diarrhoea. Fortunately, there are studies revealing that if you take probiotics directly just after, it can diminish the chances of antibiotic diarrhoea. (14)
The reason why probiotics are effective in this case is that, by taking it, your digestive tract can be repopulated with good bacteria. Consequently, it promotes healthy digestion beforehand so that bad bacteria cannot flourish in your digestive tract.
Note:The research to find the extended benefits of probiotics is quite new, thus, there is not so much conclusive evidence for the same yet. Conversely, whatever the research and key findings have come up so far, seems promising.
Besides, many results appear to depend on the strain of probiotics helpful for a particular health issue. Therefore, it sets the ground for new and exciting findings to surface in the days to come.
How to Find Suitable Probiotics
When it comes to taking probiotics, many people paint the picture of yogurt. But yes, there are certain non-dairy yogurts available that are excellent and made with finely cultured probiotics. There are a multitude of options available where you can buy supplements online or from physical stores. Besides, you can also try kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and other foods that are fermented naturally.
Furthermore, you must not confuse probiotics with prebiotics that feed good bacteria present already in your systems. Apart from this, you must watch out for pasteurized products involving heat that often kills the bacteria.
In spite of the fact that, most of probiotics are associated typically with dairy products as their source, these are considered as suitable for vegan and vegetarians. Because bacteria are initially isolated from dairy source and further cultured, making them of microbial origin completely.
Although supplements can be taken with food for proper absorption, taking probiotics on an empty stomach can be a lot more beneficial. Because bacteria can colonize quicker in your digestive system in this way.
In the ever-changing dynamics of scientific exploration, probiotics are found to have dozens of potential benefits including digestion to immune function. Nonetheless, there are still various researches going on to study more about it and to find its extended benefits.
But whatever we know at present, says that probiotics generally are safe. Thus, there is no harm in using them, right? What are you waiting for? Go grab a bottle of PROBIOTICS!