03 May 2021

PROBIOTICS

In the previous articles on Gut Bacteria, we have already seen that we have trillions of microbes on and in our body. We have discussed about:

  • What they are.
  • Where they reside in our body
  • Their importance in our health
  • Why it is essential to have a sufficient amount of Helpful/ beneficial gut bacteria for an overall healthy body and mind.

We have also seen how to enhance the number of beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract and reduce the harmful ones.

One such method is the consumption of Probiotic and Probiotic foods in our regular diet

WHAT ARE THE PROBIOTICS?

Probiotics are the combination of beneficial live micro-organisms, e.g. Bacteria and or yeast, naturally present in our body. It is generally consumed in the form of food or as a dietary supplement. Its consumption helps promote a healthy balance of our body by increasing the number of good bacteria in the digestive tract, imparting a beneficial effect on our overall health.

In the article Normal Gut flora: A necessity for good health we have already seen how important it is for us to have Normal and healthy gut flora for good health. Probiotics being a combination of live micro-organisms, i.e. Good gut bacteria, its consumption is associated with many health-related benefits such as:

  • Improves the number of friendly bacteria in our Digestive System
  • Beneficial in the prevention and the treatment of Diarrhoea (Along with other medications).

Probiotics consumption quickly repopulate our gut with a sufficient amount of beneficial bacteria and also maintain their number. It corrects the balance of the digestive tract (The number of beneficial bacteria is increased as compared with the harmful one) and helps in the management of Diarrhoea.

  • It helps in preventing and some Mental Health Conditions (Anxiety, Depression, etc.)

Our digestive tract and brain are connected to each other with the Nervous system. Changes happening in the composition of gut microflora and the digestive tract environment can affect our brain. Chemicals produced by the gut bacteria exerts an effect on our brain through the nervous system. A higher number of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract leads to the production of hormones necessary to keep our mind healthy. Since probiotics provide a sufficient number of beneficial bacteria, it helps prevent mental disorders like anxiety, depression, etc.

  • It can help reduce the severity of Certain Allergies and Eczema.

Probiotics maintain the balance of the digestive system by providing a sufficient number of beneficial bacteria. It helps keep our immune system strong and well functioning; thus, it helps reduce the risk of allergies and eczema.

  • It helps in reducing the severity of symptoms of certain Digestive disorders (E.g., Inflammatory bowel diseases).

Probiotics alter the composition of our gut bacteria by increasing the beneficial one reducing the number of harmful bacteria which can cause inflammatory bowel disease. It also strengthens our immune system and reduces the chances of inflammation. It also helps in improving vitality, health and the repair of the protective mucosal covering of our intestines. It helps in reducing the severity of symptoms due to inflammatory bowel disease.

  • It helps reduce the problems (Symptoms) associated with Irritable bowel syndrome.

By providing a sufficient amount of beneficial bacteria, probiotics help reduce the symptoms/problems associated with Irritable bowel syndrome. Having an adequate amount of healthy (beneficial) gut bacteria help in:

  1. Maintaining the balance of our gut by reducing the number of harmful gut bacteria.
  2. Strengthening our immune system and reducing the risk of inflammation
  3. Slowing down the excess bowel movements.
  4. Reducing the formation of gas

It collectively helps in relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

  • It helps in maintaining cardiovascular health.

Probiotics help maintain cardiovascular health in an individual by helping in:

  1. Reducing the blood cholesterol levels (Reducing its absorption and enhancing its metabolism).
  2. Reducing the risk of inflammation and subsequently the risk of suffering from High blood pressure.
  • It helps in boosting our Immune System (Prevents frequent infections).

Consumption of probiotics provides a sufficient amount of beneficial gut bacteria, which helps in reducing the number of harmful bacteria in our digestive system.

It also helps improve the function of the cells of our immune system and keep it at an optimum level. It makes our immune system more robust and reduces the risk of frequent allergies and infections.

  • It may help in Losing excess weight and belly fat.

Probiotics consumption can aid in weight loss and reducing excess body fat in an obese individual through the following mechanisms:

  1. Increasing the oxidation of fatty acids and decreasing their storage.
  2. Reducing the risk of inflammation.
  3. Enhancing metabolism and reducing the appetite.
  4. Improving the sensitivity of the hormone insulin.
  • Beneficial in relieving constipation.

Probiotics can help relieve the problem of constipation by:

  1. Increasing the number and frequency of bowel movements.
  2. Aiding in softening the stools, making it easier to pass them.
  • It helps maintain the balance of Gut bacteria (Maintaining the number of beneficial bacteria) after the treatment with antibiotic medications. 

When antibiotics treatment is taken for any illness, along with the pathogenic bacteria, the normal gut flora also gets killed. It creates an imbalance within our digestive system.

Taking probiotic supplements/food after antibiotic treatment helps restore the number of beneficial bacteria in our gut and maintain the balance of our digestive system. 

  • Beneficial in Urinary tract infection.

We have already seen that probiotics provide beneficial bacteria. Apart from the digestive system, it also helps maintain the balance of the urogenital region by providing a sufficient number of beneficial bacteria and reducing the number of pathogenic bacteria. Thus, it can aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections.

What are the Examples of Probiotic food?

The dietary sources of probiotics are:

  1. Curd
  2. Yoghurt
  3. Idli
  4. Dosa
  5. Dhokla
  6. Kimchi
  7. Buttermilk
  8. Pickles
  9. Paneer (Indian Cottage cheese)

Apart from dietary sources, there are certain nutritional probiotic supplements are also available. Healthonics recommends that those supplements be taken only after consultation with and as per the doctor’s advice.

References:

Probiotics: What is it, Benefits, Side Effects, Food & Types (clevelandclinic.org)

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-for-ibs#:~:text=Summary%20Gut%20flora%20imbalances%20may,slowing%20down%20the%20digestive%20system.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/probiotics-may-ease-constipation-201408217377#:~:text=By%20pooling%20the%20findings%20of,to%20be%20the%20most%20effective.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/aging/stay-a-step-ahead-of-urinary-tract-infections

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16827601/#:~:text=The%20use%20of%20probiotics%2C%20especially,lactobacilli%20may%20protect%20against%20UTIs.

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