Probiotic word has been derived from the Greek words Pro, which means “promotion” and Biotic, meaning “life”. Our body has a vast amount of bacteria- both good and bad, which have been with us since birth. But what is important is the optimal balance of these in the body. A subsequent imbalance is called dysbiosis, which can cause diseases related to the intestinal tract. So, probiotics are actually bacteria or live microorganisms which help prevent or even treat some illnesses. While the idea of having bacteria in the body that help instead of harm is a bit difficult to take in, probiotics actually help promote a healthy immune system as well as a healthy digestive tract.
The following are the health benefits of probiotics:
- Balancing the good bacteria in the body
An imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the body can cause allergies, obesity, mental health issues and more. Probiotics restore the natural balance of gut bacteria upon consumption. These live beneficial microorganisms prevent an imbalance that might have been caused by various kinds of medications, illnesses, poor diet and more.
- Diarrhea treatment
One of the most common side effects of taking antibiotics is diarrhea. This occurs due to the antibiotics negatively affecting the balance between good and bad bacteria. But one of the probiotic benefits is to help reduce or prevent diarrhea, especially antibiotic associated diarrhea. Studies have also proven that they can reduce infectious diarrhea by an average of 25 hours and traveler’s diarrhea by 8%. But, the effect varies depending on the type and dosage consumed.
- Improving mental health conditions
Gut health has been linked to mental and mood health often, and in accordance, probiotic supplements have been found to decrease some mental health disorders like anxiety, stress, depression, OCD, memory and more.
- Keeping the heart healthy
Bile is a fluid mostly made up of cholesterol which helps with digestion. Probiotics help in breaking down the bile so as to prevent it from getting reabsorbed in the gut where it can enter the bloodstream as cholesterol. So, the lactic producing bacteria present in the gut help in breaking down the bile and thus keep the heart healthy by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and blood pressure. This is one of the best probiotic benefits.
- Reducing the severity of allergies
Probiotics may reduce the severity and risk of certain allergies like eczema. Some studies have shown that certain probiotic strains may reduce the severity of eczema in infants and children. But the link is not yet fully established and needs more research.
- Reducing symptoms of certain digestive disorders
Certain types of probiotics, like those with the Lactobacillus strains and Bifidobacterium, have been seen to improve symptoms of mild ulcerative colitis. Some research indicates that it can help with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and other bowel disorders along with reducing severe necrotizing enterocolitis by around 50%.
- Boosting the immune system
Another one of the probiotic benefits is that it has been found to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body along with boosting immunity cells. It is the probiotic Lactobacillus Crispatus which has been found to reduce the risk of UTI in women by almost 50%.
- Helps in losing weight and belly fat
There are a number of ways that probiotic benefits you. One is by preventing the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine. This way, the fat gets excreted rather than stored. Another way is by making the patient feel fuller for longer periods of time so as to store less fat and burn more calories.
Foods to consume
Here’s a list of foods to consume to experience the benefits of probiotics:
This is an ideal fermented probiotic milk product since it contains several strains of both yeast and bacteria to provide the benefits. Kefir grains are cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast, which are added to goat or cow’s milk. It helps in solving some digestive problems and acts as protection against infections along with improving bone health.
This fermented dish is made from green onions, radish, cabbage, garlic, ginger, red pepper powder, fermented seafood and more. It is high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, vitamin B2, iron and more. It also contains the lactic acid bacteria called Lactobacillus kimchii along with others which aid in cholesterol reduction, colon health improvement, ensuring anti-obesity, anti-constipation, immune protection, and skin health promotion.
Made from milk, this fermented product mainly contains bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. This healthy product has many benefits of probiotic and can improve blood pressure, bone health, reduce diarrhea, IBS, reduced gastrointestinal disease, improve dental health and more. It is advised to check if the yogurt has active or live cultures (dead or alive bacteria) before buying it.
The benefits of these foods resulting from the bacteria and yeast strains, yield naturally beneficial results for the body along with less or negligible side effects. So, for now, probiotics are here to stay and spread good health.