The human body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. However, the good or friendly bacteria are called probiotics. And it is these bacteria that help keep you and your digestive system in perfect condition.
Probiotics 101: The Basics of Probiotics
At the beginning of 20th century, the Father of Probiotics, Nobel Laurete Elie Metchnikoff, proposed that drinking microorganisms can have beneficial effects on the human body. Further, studies were conducted to investigate this concept, and it led to the birth of the word probiotics which means “for life.”
Consequently, probiotics are live microorganisms that provide many health benefits to humans. Moroever, most probiotics are similar to the helpful bacteria naturally found in the human gut. In your gut lives a diverse and complex populace of bacteria. However, the ratio of microorganism cells over the human cells in a healthy adult is 10:1. You may think that bacteria are all harmful, but, a lot of good bacteria help keep your body functioning at its best.
Probiotics 101: Benefits of Probiotics
Friendly bacteria that reside in the gut, also known as microflora, keep harmful microorganism (pathogens) at bay. Along with this, they also boost absorption of nutrients, aid in better digestion and enhance the immune functions. Moreover, according to the National Health Interview Survey conducted in 2007, probiotics came 5th as one of the natural products widely used for children in the US. In Japan and Europe, use of probiotics in consumer products is very popular.
Probiotics are used to relieve gastrointestinal conditions such as:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (click here for more natural IBS remedies)
- Diarrhea linked to antibiotic use
- Infectious Diarrhea
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s Disease and Colitis
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Furthermore, these healthy microorganisms are also used to relieve urogenital problems in women such as yeast infection, urinary tract infection, and bacterial vaginosis. There is also substantial evidence that probiotics can help cure atopic eczema. And this is a skin condition that commonly affects infants. Moreover, probiotics are also a promising cure for nasal pathogens, childhood respiratory infections, and tooth decay.
Some clinical studies also suggest that probiotics may help minimize side effects of Helicobacter pylori infections, which is the most common cause of stomach ulcers. Clinical reviews also suggest that probiotics may help reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in premature newborns. These good bacteria are also considered a potential treatment for obesity and for lowering cholesterol levels.
Probiotics are sold as dietary supplements in the form of capsules, powders, and tablets, but much better is to get them through cultured natural foods such as yogurt, coconut yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, kombucha, or cultured sodas.
ALSO READ: 7 Must-Eat Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut
In general, probiotics are considered safe, since they are naturally present in the digestive system. But, there were a few reports of its adverse side effects, although research on its safety is still ongoing (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2012).
Furthermore, the risk of adverse side effects may be higher in people suffering from underlying medical conditions. But these adverse effects are very rare, and there is no reason not to start introducing probiotics into your diet to reap their benefits for health and happiness.
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Thanks for reading. I hope this information was helpful. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.