The internet is full of buzz about probiotics these days. The market demand for probiotics is rapidly expanding, which means that probiotics can be found in many food products and supplements.
But one crucial question remains, what are probiotics and how do they improve our digestion and by extent, health?
Our gut contains the same number of bacteria(gut flora) as the number of cells in our entire body. It is one of the most complex ecosystems in our bodies. Gut flora protects and helps our digestive system to properly digest and absorb the nutrients from the food we intake.
Every day, the balance if this ecosystem is tested and can be easily disrupted by consuming ‘extreme’ foods and liquids (foods that are excessively spicy, hot, cold, acidic) as well as medicines like antibiotics. This in turn can lead to various gastro-intestinal conditions like ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics are live cultures (good bacteria) found mainly in yoghurts that help our gut flora retain its natural balance. But with the ever-increasing demand, now-days probiotics can be found in many food products and supplements.
Probiotics should be an integral part of your healthy diet, especially if you are on an antibiotic regimen.
Which products contain probiotics
Probiotics are most often found in yoghurts and other fermented goods. Probiotics are also sold as supplements and added in various dry products, breads and snacks.
For example, a pack of the new Luke’s Organic probiotic chips contains enough cultures to cover your daily BC30 needs.
The gut protector
Probiotics are most often used in treating antibiotic-associated-diarrhea and infectious diarrhea in children. Antibiotics are indiscriminate weapons when fighting diseases and most often kill a good portion of the ‘good’ bacteria alongside the bad which results in diarrhea in about 20% of the cases.
Probiotic supplements promote regeneration of the stomach lining and the gut flora which shortens the duration of AAD by about 60%.
Also, probiotics offer health benefits in treating gas and bloating in IBS.
Probiotics also protect your mouth and reduce LDL(bad cholesterol)
Probiotics are not only beneficial for your large intestine but can also protect your mouth from various periodontal diseases and can have cholesterol-lowering properties in humans.
Not all probiotics are the same
There are many different probiotics sold in foods or food supplements, which can have different effects on the body. That’s why when you are at the store, it’s important to read the label and check the type of probiotic and what its proposed benefit is. Products may contain one or more probiotic strains with the number of bacteria as high as 20 billion. Some food producers offer unique probiotic combinations in their products that supposedly make them even better for you.
Always check expiration date
Since probiotic products and supplements contain live bacteria, checking the expiration date should be a no-brainer. With time, probiotics lose some of their potency. However, some observations suggest that even deactivated probiotic cells offer some immunological benefits.
Possible side effects of using probiotics
Probiotics are considered to be safe-to-use for healthy people. In the first few days of using probiotics, mild gas and bloating may develop. This is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern – since they promote regeneration of the gut flora and a new optimal balance. This, in fact, is a sign of the probiotics’ efficacy in establishing better digestion and digestive health.
The duration of these transitional symptoms vary from individual to individual, but if they persist for more than 10 days, you should discontinue their consumption and contact a medical professional.
Pregnant women should use probiotics cautiously with professional oversight.
People who are seriously ill, should consult a professional before taking probiotics.
Probiotics show a lot promise in treating vide variety of symptoms and diseases. They are generally safe to use and if we take into account the sky-rocketing demand, one thing is certain – probiotics have improved the health and quality of life of many people around the world!
*This website is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your physician whenever you plan to make significant changes in your diet.