The human digestive tract contains bacteria. 85 percent of these bacteria are beneficial, called probiotic bacteria. The probiotic bacteria assist in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Bacteria is often perceived as a harmful thing, but our body needs some of the ‘good bacteria’ to aid it in food digestion, fight off harmful bacteria and keep the immune system healthy. Probiotics provide us with the ‘good bacteria’ we need.
Probiotics, in natural foods and available as supplements, can replace the healthy bacteria that has declined because of poor diet and other conditions. Besides being present naturally in certain foods, probiotics can be availed in capsules and powdered form.
The natural probiotic foods you should be eating are yoghurt and soft cheese. Yoghurt is a rich source of probiotics, but all yoghurts are not probiotic. The strains of probiotics found in yogurt include lactobacillus and bifidobacteria (check for the label when buying yoghurt). Making yogurt at home with raw milk is ideal.
Benefits of probiotics
Probiotics benefit everyone but especially those who have to take antibiotics; because antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. Moreover, the probiotics gained from food consumption provide protection against the effects of harmful bacteria. The benefits of probiotics are as follows.
When the body's immune system has trouble fighting off microbes, you may get sick or catch an infection. Probiotics decrease the risk of infections and can even cure some by killing harmful microbes that the body can't destroy on its own. In a nutshell, one way of fighting infections/illnesses is the dietary use of probiotics.
Help those with irritable bowel syndrome
A study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology showed that priobiotics can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It alleviates abdominal pain, cramping, flatulence, diarrhoea and constipation
Other health issues
There is scientific evidence to suggest that probiotics are effective in treating infectious diarrhoea, ulcers due to bacterial infections, intestinal infections, vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, tooth decay and eczema.
Helps lose weight
Those who are trying to lose weight can do it faster and easier with probiotics. When you eat a diet rich in probiotics, you absorb fewer calories and feel satiated. Moreover, probiotics help break down complex carbohydrates to aid weight loss process.
Beware of the dangers
Probiotics are considered safe to use. However, probiotic supplements tend to cause mild effects, such as slight bloating, gas and metabolic activity. They can sometimes over-stimulate the immune system. They have also been reported to cause an infection which would require antibiotics. However, the likelihood of an infection with probiotics is only in people with an underlying health condition.
If you use probiotics and experience side effects that concern you, contact your physician or health care provider. It is advised to talk to your physician or a dietician before you start taking probiotic supplements. A health professional will able to help you know how probiotics work and the probiotics that will be most helpful to you.