The Reasons why you Need Probiotics for your Wellbeing.
A normal digestive system is ordinarily home to an estimated 100 trillion micro-organisms of diverse species including both the “good” and “bad” bacteria. Bacteria and other micro-organisms ordinarily have a bad reputation as disease causing , however, many are actually essential to our wellbeing since they help in the digestion of food, aid in the absorption of nutrients, production of vitamins and the destruction of disease-causing cells.
There is need to have a balance between the good and bad bacteria at all times since an imbalance can trigger various health problems including digestive issues, allergies, obesity and more. An imbalance in your gut can be caused by many factors including poor diet choices such as consumption of highly processed foods, too much sugar or high intake of alcohol, ageing, diseases, use of anti-biotics or even lack of regular exercise. You can easily get rid of the imbalance in your gut by consuming probiotic containing foods or dietary supplements.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are components in fermented dairy products such as yogurts, buttermilk, and cheese such as gouda, Mozzarella, cheddar and cottage cheese. They are also present in other fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi or in some dietary supplements. The probiotic foods or supplements contain a variety of micro-organisms that are similar to the ones that naturally live in our bodies. The Bacteria belonging to the groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common in probiotics, however, other bacteria can used in the production of probiotics.
One should not confuse between prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that selectively stimulate the growth and health of these microorganisms.
Benefits of Probiotics
The consumption of probiotic foods, drinks or supplements will Introduce live bacteria into your gut and this will improve your general wellbeing. Probiotics has a great impact on our health because:-
- Improve Immunity: Probiotics has the ability of preventing the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut and promotes the production of natural antibodies and this collectively contribute to your increased immunity. Studies have also shown that the probiotic Lactobacillus crispatus can effectively reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in women.
- Help in Weight Loss: Probiotics may help with weight loss through a number of different mechanisms. Some probiotics can prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine, this is ensures that the same is not stored in the body but flushed through excretion. Probiotics can also impact on your weight loss journey by helping in making you feel fuller for longer, burn more calories and store less fat . You should be aware that not all probiotics act the same, for instance probiotics consisting of the bacteria known as Lactobacillus acidophilus can actually instigate weight gain.
- Lower bad cholesterol levels: Probiotics can contain some specific bacteria that produces lactic acid that may lower bad cholesterol levels by breaking down bile in the gut. Bile is a fluid mainly consisting of cholesterol and is produced by the liver and it helps in digestion. Probiotics prevents the bile from being injected into your blood as cholesterol by breaking the bile and blocking its re-absorption in the gut system.
- Eliminate digestive disorders: Probiotics can effectively minimize the symptoms of some digestive disorders such as irritable bowel disease. Studies have also demonstrated that they can significantly reduce the risk of severe necrotizing enterocolitis, a fatal bowel condition that affects premature infants.
- Treatment and Prevention of Vaginal Infections: Probiotics can be used to treat or prevent vaginal infections. The vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem and the dominant Lactobacilli strains normally make it too acidic for harmful microorganisms to survive. However, factors such as use of birth control pills, use of antibiotics and spermicides can destabilize the balance. Probiotics can treat and prevent common vaginal problems such as urinary tract and yeast infections.
- Improve Diversity: Probiotics can ensure that you have an efficient and healthy digestive system by improving the diversity of the good bacteria in your system. Diversity in your gut translates into more health benefits.
How to introduce Probiotics into your Gut system
A good source of probiotics are; fermented dairy products such as yogurts, buttermilk, and cheeses such as gouda, Mozzarella, cheddar and cottage cheese. Some fermented foods such as pickled vegetables, kimchi, tempeh, miso and kefir or soybean are also a good source.
If you can cannot access the fermented foods and drinks in sufficient quantities then you can opt for the convenient probiotic supplements containing bacteria in dried bacteria packaged in tablet, capsule or powder forms. To ensure that you get all the benefits of probiotic supplements, settle for those produced by reputable companies because any probiotic that is of poor quality will most likely not make it to your gut since the same will be destroyed by the high acidity in your stomach.
You have to consume adequate amounts of probiotics for a considerable time, if you want to fully benefit. It is advisable to fully follow the directions and dosage given by the manufacturer of the probiotic supplements to achieve the full benefits.
How To Sustain the Health of the Good Bacteria
The good bacteria requires energy to survive and thrive in your gut. You can maintain them by consuming foods that are high in dietary fiber such as whole fruits and vegetables, green bananas, whole oats and flaxseeds. The foods will stimulate the grown and health of the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
You also have to avoid lifestyle habits that tend to destroy the beneficial bacteria such as high intake of sugar and its components.
The Use and Side Effects of Probiotics.
Probiotics are considered as safe and rarely cause any side effects because the micro-organisms in the probiotics are the same or very similar to those that naturally exists in your body. Another factor is that the fermented foods or drinks that you have been eating have the micro-organisms as a component.
However, in isolated cases, some experience mild side effects such as mild diarrhea, gas or bloating only for a short period after the initial consumption of probiotics. In the event one experiences persistent symptoms then it will be better to stop further use of the probiotics or the supplements and consult a medical professional before resuming the consumption. An overdose on the supplements can induce some side effects.
In special situations, such as when one is pregnant, breastfeeding or having any chronic health condition, then it is highly crucial that you consult your doctor before consuming any supplements.
Caution on Probiotic Supplements
Probiotics are not subject to strict safety regulations since they are mostly categorized as food supplements and not drugs. This means that the components used in the probiotics or the entire manufacturing process is rarely under scrutiny by the government institutions in many parts of the world.
The Consumer has to be very cautious with the purchase and consumption of probiotics because some products do not even contain the life culture that they profess to contain. Some products can even contain harmful substances. It is advisable that you only source for supplements from reputable companies. Reputable and established companies tend to be keen with their processes and components and they are your best bet.