If you were told that bacteria can be beneficial for your health, you would probably not believe it. However, the right bacteria in the right place have several health benefits. This is where probiotics come into place. They are live microorganisms that help treat certain health problems including indigestion, allergies, tooth decay, liver diseases, and common cold. Broken down, the word means “promoting life”. This article is about how probiotics enrich your health.
Role of Probiotics
They are believed to protect us in two ways. Firstly, they play a role in our digestive tract. We know that our digestive tract needs a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria, so what gets in the way of this? It looks like our lifestyle is both the problem and the solution. Poor food choices, stress and sleep disorder can shift the balance in favour of the bad bacteria.
Types of Probiotics
There are different kinds of probiotics, and you determine their health benefits by the job they do in the gut. They must be identified by their genus, species, and strain level. Here is a list of probiotics and their possible health benefits:
There are more than 50 species of lactobacilli that are naturally found in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems. Studies have shown Lactobacillus preventing yeast infections, urinary tract infection, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and antibiotic-related diarrhea.
There are as many as 30 species of bifidobacteria that make up most of the healthy bacteria in the colon. They appear in the intestinal tract within days of birth, especially in breastfeeding infants and are the best marker of intestinal health. This bacteria can help improve IBS symptoms such as bloating and digestive disorders. You can manage these symptoms through the IBS diet.
Also known as S. boulardii, this is the only yeast probiotic. Some studies have shown that it is effective in treating diarrhoea associated with the use of antibiotics. It also reduces the side effects of treatment for H. pylori [Ref].
This produces large quantities of the enzyme lactase, making it effective in the prevention of lactose intolerance.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
They promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and promote a variety of health benefits. Some of these benefits include weight loss, digestive health, and immune function. Here are the key health benefits:
Treating diarrhea: Probiotics reduce the severity of diarrhea. They reduced the risk of travelers’ diarrhea by 8%. They also lower the risk of diarrhea from other causes by 57% in children and 26% in adults.
Improve some mental conditions: Many studies have linked gut health to mood and mental health. In one such study, 40 patients with depression were taking probiotic supplements [Ref] for eight weeks. This decreased their depression levels and reduced levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and hormones such as insulin, compared to people who did not take a probiotic.
Good for the heart: Probiotics may also keep your heart healthy by breaking down bile – a naturally occurring fluid mostly made of cholesterol.
Boost immune system: Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and suppress the growth of harmful gut bacteria. They may also boost immune cells.
Weight loss: Probiotics may help with weight loss through a number of different mechanisms. For example, some probiotics prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine. The fat is then excreted through faeces rather than getting stored in the body. They may also help you feel fuller for a longer time and burn more calories.
Probiotic Foods You Must Eat
We have already discussed the health benefits of probiotics. Add these foods to your diet for overall health.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Raw cheese
- Sour pickles
You can get probiotics in tablets, capsules, and powder that contain the bacteria in dried form.