What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms which gives some health benefits when consumed. They can be called as good bacteria. They can be found in various foods.
Probiotics are normally consumed in fermented foods with active live cultures such as yogurt.
Probiotics are also available in supplement form as capsules, liquid and chewables. There are many different strains of probiotics, but the most common strains available today in are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
The digestive system is home to more than 500 different types of bacteria. They help keep the intestines healthy and assist in digesting food. They are also believed to help the immune system
How does Probiotics work?
In order to have a good balanced digestive functions, some friendly bacteria are needed. Those bacteria are always present in the intestinal flora.
When it get disturbed by any infectious disease or an antibiotic, some digestive disorders happens.
“Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines,” says Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
These friendly bacteria can also fight against harmful bacteria which enters to intestines.
What are health benefits of Probiotics?
Probiotics may be beneficial for brain function. Researchers at UCLA found that brain function improved among healthy women who regularly consumed probiotic-containing yogurt.
Scientists at University College Cork, Ireland, reported in the journal Gut Microbes that Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 may also have benefits for patients with psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in 2012 revealed that a formulation of Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242, is able to reduce blood levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol.
Probiotics are mainly used for,
- Treating childhood diarrhea
- Treating ulcerative colitis
- Preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea
- Preventing pouchitis, an inflammation of the intestines that can follow intestinal surgery
- Treating necrotizing enterocolitis, a type of infection and inflammation of the intestines mostly seen in infants
- Treating and preventing eczema associated with cow’s milk allergy
- Helping the immune system
The Yale University panel of experts concluded that probiotics may be helpful in other ways, although the evidence is less convincing. These include:
- Treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
- Treating vaginitis
- Treating Crohn's disease
- Treating diarrhea caused by C. difficile bacteria
Food that contain probiotics
Not all yogurts are the same, so watch out for yogurts filled with sugars and syrups. Instead, pick yogurts that have natural ingredients and say “live and active cultures” for maximum health and probiotics benefits
Soy naturally contains some probiotic benefits, but new soy milk products on the market have added extra live cultures. Look for labels that say “live and active cultures” to be sure.
A cross between yogurt and milk, kefir is a delicious way to get probiotics and vitamins into your system
Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics
Not all cheeses are good sources of probiotics, but certain soft fermented cheeses
Dosa & idli
These are Indian foods that contain sufficient amount of prbiotics