What Are Probiotics?

Bacteria are not always harmful and disease-causing. Many strains of bacteria improve our immunity and catalyze essential processes in our body. Probiotic is a Greek terminology that means ‘Promoting Life’. Probiotics are live bacteria with a wide range of benefits. They are available in dietary supplements and natural food sources.

Probiotics benefits

Microbiome And Digestive Health.

Our body already has a considerable quantity of useful or good bacteria. Different microorganisms outnumber our body cells as there are ten microorganisms against each cell of a human body. Out gut contains about 1000 different types of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, and yeasts. The large intestine houses most of these living organisms that help in producing essential vitamins for the overall function of the body. They also help in the conversion of fiber into short-chain fats that aid the metabolic functions. An increase or significant decrease in gut flora can cause metabolic issues leading to Diabetes, obesity, and colorectal cancer, etc. Probiotics are an effective way of keeping a constant level of gut flora. Factors affecting the gut flora include age, overall health condition, environment, and diet.

Benefits of Probiotics.

Probiotics have need widely researched for its numerous health benefits. Different strains of bacteria have a different effect on the body and its functions. Let’s take a detailed look at the benefits of probiotics.

Digestive system.

A very successful solution to several digestive system problems is probiotics, including diarrhea, ulcers, H. pylori, irritable bowel syndrome, infection of the gastrointestinal tract, and Crohn’s disease. Probiotics like Lactobacillus GG have shown to treat infectious diarrhea in children. They are also known to reduce the risk of diarrhea occurring due to the intake of antibiotics. Interestingly they can also help in treating constipation by decreasing the gut transit time and softening the stool.

Probiotics also help in fighting the irritable bowel syndrome by reducing the irritating symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Infections caused by Helicobacter pylori are the leading cause of ulcers and stomach cancer. Probiotics can help fight this harmful bacterium reduce the chances of chronic diseases like cancer.

Weight loss.

Researchers predict that some of the thousands of bacteria living within the human body have a role in weight gain and loss. The function of microbes present in the gut depends on the diet we take daily. If we are on a poor diet, the digestive system health deteriorates, which may cause dysbiosis i.e., a significant imbalance in the gut microbes. If a large quantity of harmful bacteria starts to dwell in the gut, it may reduce bacterial diversity and lower the level of friendly bacteria. Research has shown that there is a significant difference between the gut flora of obese and lean populations. Researchers also think that a change in gut flora can be one of the causes of obesity.

Bacteria in the gut are affected by continuous intake of high fat and calorie diet and excessive use of artificial sweeteners, which will eventually lead to obesity. Studies have shown that people who have used probiotics lost more weight as compared to those who did not. Lactobacillus gasseri has proved to be effective in fat loss along with many other strains. 

Mental Health.

Stress, anxiety, and depression have become a permanent part of our lives. The human body is a complex structure, and there is more than one reason behind a single anomaly. Several factors also cause mental health issues, and one of them is a poor diet that leads to disturbed gut flora. Psychobiotics is a category of probiotics that can help in fighting depression and lifting mood. They help produce neurotransmitters that will have a positive effect on sleep patterns, mood, and appetite. One of the major factors leading to depression is inflammation. Probiotics can help in reducing inflammation caused by different issues.  

Stress causes overall damage to the brain. People with depression and anxiety may seem to have reduced cognitive abilities. Taking probiotics can boost your memory and reduce forgetfulness.

Boosts Immunity.

Probiotics are equally helpful in improving the immunity of a body. It reduces the number of harmful bacteria and promotes the production of antibodies. Lymphocytes and natural killers are the bodies first line of defense against infectious diseases. Probiotics help in the creation of the immune cells. They can reduce the chances of gum infection or gingivitis, along with reducing inflammation or hyperactivity.  

Improves Skin Health.

Any changes or anomaly in the function and structure of the body will affect the skin. Poor gut health has a direct effect on the quality of the skin. Probiotics can help in fighting the reason behind skin issues such as allergies, inflammation, damage due to UV rays, hypersensitivity, and eczema. These helpful microbes can also control acne outbreaks and the production of lesions on the skin. Daily intake of the recommended dose of probiotics can also help in growing healthy nails.  

Probiotics Improve Heart Health.

Research has also shown that taking probiotics can reduce the risk of heart diseases. The helpful bacteria tend to lower the ratio of bad cholesterol and raise the level of good cholesterol. A decrease in bad cholesterol also reduces triglycerides. Bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus reuteri also help lower blood pressure and keep the heart-healthy. 

Types of Probiotics.

Lactobacillus.

More than 50 natural species of Lactobacillus are already present in the digestive system, urinary tract, and the genitals. These microbes help prevent severe health problems, including Urinary Tract Infection, Irritable bowel syndrome, and vaginosis. It also helps in treating acne, blisters, and eczema. Some of the most popular and help strains of this bacteria are Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus gasseri.

Saccharomyces Boulardii.

Saccharomyces boulardii is the only yeast probiotic that helps treat diarrhea. It also helps in the prevention of traveler’s diarrhea, acne, and effects caused by the infection of H. pylori. Overall this bacterial is essential is keeping the gut healthy.

Bifidobacteria.

Bifidobacteria are 30 different strains residing in the colon of the human body. Their appearance in the intestinal tract indicates a healthy intestine. Bifidobacteria help increases glucose tolerance and helps treat digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome. It reduces the symptoms of IBS and reduces discomfort. Some of the most popular Bifidobacteria are Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium thermophilum, and Bifidobacterium breve.

Streptococcus Thermophilus.

These bacteria produce a large number of lactase enzymes required for the digestion of lactose or dairy products. It is essential for the patients of lactose intolerance.

Probiotic Foods.

Yogurt.

Yogurt is the most common and readily available probiotic food source open all around the world. It is produced by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria. Yogurt helps treat antibiotics-associated diarrhea and helps in treating the symptoms of IBS.

Kefir.

Kefir is a unique dairy product that is rich in active yeast and bacteria. Fermented Kefir milk contains Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus created by adding grains to the milk of cow or goat. It protects against infectious diseases and solves digestive health problems. Just to make a comparison, Kefir is an even better source of Probiotics than Yogurt.

Kimchi.

Kimchi is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables. It is a staple in Korean cuisine. Nappa cabbage and Korean radish as the essential plants are used in it. They are made with seasonings like gochugaru, spring onions, garlic, ginger, and salted seafood. In summers, kimchi would be cool enough in underground storage to slow down the fermentation process. Kimchi contains vitamin K, Vitamin b12, and a significant quantity of iron. Lactobacillus kimchi is a great help in fixing digestive tract issues. 

Tempeh.

Tempeh is the fermented form of soybean having a rich nutty flavor, Just like the mushrooms. The fermentation of soy induces the production of vitamin B12 and also increases the chances of mineral absorption of the plant. It is a perfect probiotic choice for vegetarians who do not prefer dairy products.

Kombucha.

Probiotics are also available in the form of drinks. Kombucha is fermented green or black tea it has a surprisingly good effect on human health. Not much research is carried out on the benefits of Kombucha as a probiotic food, but people still use it for the same purpose.

Pickles.

Pickles or fermented cucumber are a great source of vitamin K, which helps in the clotting function of the body. Remember that pickles made with natural lactic acid bacteria have alive probiotics. Pickles fermented with vinegar does not contain live microbes.

Side Effects Of Probiotics.

Probiotics do not have a long list of side effects. It may cause minor digestive system issues like bloating, gas, and constipation to a few people. Taking probiotics is generally safe with no potential harmful effects. However, if you are going for a probiotic supplement, make sure to consult a doctor and avoid self-prescribing.

In Closing.

Probiotics are a safe, convenient, and quick way to solve several health issues of the body. They are a safe solution with almost no or mild side effects. With research beings carried out at a rapid rate, we will soon find more benefits of Probiotics.

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