Last Updated June 13th, 2021
Probiotics: Food for gut?
Probiotics are live bacteria that are present in the human gut. An active and healthy probiotic is essential for a healthy gut, which is helpful in various health benefits such as improving the immune system, promote digestion, converting fiber to fatty acids, produce certain vitamins, etc.
Probiotic feed on the prebiotic that are found in fiber-rich foods and become activated. Healthy probiotics are essential in preventing medical conditions such as leaky gut syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease, etc.
People who have prolonged illness or who have consumed a course of antibiotics may have lesser probiotics since the illness or antibiotics tend to kill the useful bacteria present in the gut. In such cases, supplements of probiotics are provided to increase the number of probiotics in the human gut. There are numerous types of probiotics present in the human gut and different people tend to have different sets of probiotics.
It is important to understand which probiotic suits a person since all probiotics are not suitable for everybody. Another way of increasing the probiotics is by feeding the probiotics with prebiotic foods and supplements.
Did you know this about probiotics?
- They are live organisms which are present in the gut.
- They use prebiotics as their food source.
- They are either bacteria or yeast.
- Treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
- May get killed due to change in body temperature.
Probiotics: How a better gut culture can make you healthier?
Improves immune system
The immune system is the defense system of the body against the pathogens. Studies have indicated that probiotics are helpful in enhancing the gut microbiome which in turn improves the immunity. Studies have indicated that due to the enhancement of gut microbiome, there is a gradual decrease in the enzymes which help in the multiplication of cancer cells. When the useful bacteria in the gut are activated, it flushes out the harmful virus and other pathogens and supports the immune system by doing this.
Digesting the food appropriately which we intake is necessary for all the nutrients to be absorbed. An important factor required for the process of digestion to work properly is with the help of probiotics. They are generally present in the colon and aid in the absorption and digestion process. The bacteria which are present in the colon make use of the prebiotic fiber that we consume and use them as their food source and become activated. Adequate and active probiotics are helpful in reducing the risk factors for several gastrointestinal problems such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, etc.
Prevents heart disease
Heart disease is referred to as the abnormal functioning of the heart. There are numerous factors contributing to the risk factors for heart disease. One of the processes called glycation (bonding of sugar molecule) is responsible for the increase in the free radicals, which increases the inflammation, as well as lowers the insulin resistance. All these factors are considered to be high-risk factors for heart disease. Probiotics are helpful in reducing this process of glycation and reducing the risk factors of heart disease. Due to the appropriate absorption of minerals such as sodium and potassium, the blood pressure is also regulated and managed appropriately.
It is the response of the immune system when it encounters a foreign body. Inflammations are also caused at the internal organs as well as surrounding tissues. Some of the health problems related to inflammation include heart problems, diabetes, cancer, etc. Probiotics are helpful in reducing the inflammation in the blood vessels and aid in adequate blood flow, which in turn reduces the pressure on the blood vessels and prevents serious heart problems such as heart attack and stroke.
Helps to lose weight
Losing weight is considered as one of the most difficult goals to achieve. There are several ways to lose weight and people generally start with a planned diet accompanied with physical exercise. Probiotics are helpful in managing weight loss since bacteria are known to absorb certain fats in the stomach and promotes a reduction in belly fat. Probiotic supplements also promote the feeling of fullness and reduce the intake of food.
Promotes healthy bones
Healthy bones are essential for the normal functioning of a person. Osteoporosis is a medical condition where the bones tend to gradually lose their density and become soft. There are several factors which may cause this condition and one such reason is due to the abnormal absorption of calcium from the gut. This causes the bones to gradually become soft and weak. People may also experience stiffness and pain in the joints. Probiotics are helpful in absorbing the essential minerals required for the bones namely calcium, magnesium, and iron, which in turn provides strength and structure to the bones.
Manages hormone levels
Hormones are the molecules produced by the body, which help in regulating various functions. Certain factors may affect this process and cause abnormal levels of hormones produced, which may lead to several health problems. Change in hormone levels may also alter the psychological performance of a person. Studies have indicated that psychological problems such as anxiety and depression may be related to gut health. Probiotics help the body to produce the necessary hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone which is known to manage the mood and stress and a person affected by stress is able to cope better.
Healthy (and tasty) probiotics
Yogurt: It is well known for its probiotic properties. Yogurt is produced by fermenting milk using bifidobacteria and lactic acid. These bacteria are useful to improve gut health. Antibiotics may cause diarrhea, and yogurt is useful in treating this problem by enhancing the probiotics in the gut. Yogurt is also helpful for people with lactose intolerance.
Kefir: It is produced by fermenting milk with kefir grains. The end product of kefir is similar to yogurt and also contains various health benefits similar to yogurt. It is a combination of bacteria and yeast. It is known to improve the amount of probiotic content in the gut and is helpful in various digestive functions.
Sauerkraut: It is a traditional recipe which is made using cabbage and fermented using lactic acid. It is famous in Europe and is also popular due to its sour and salty taste. Sauerkraut is stored for months and used as sausage. It has powerful probiotic properties and is also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Tempeh: Soybean is fermented to produce Tempeh. The phytic acid levels are drastically reduced due to the fermentation process and Tempeh acquires vitamin B12 which is generally not found in plant food. It is a powerful probiotic and is also rich in vitamin B12
Kimchi: It is a Korean dish. It is generally made using cabbage which is then fermented with lactic acid, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, scallion, as well as salt. It is a well known probiotic due to the presence of lactic acid bacteria and useful for many health benefits.
Miso: It is a Japanese dish which is made from soybean. Soybean is fermented with salt and koji which is a fungus. Miso is consumed as sausage. It has high amounts of fiber as well as proteins. It has been used from ancient times in Japan which is known to prevent breast cancer as well as stroke.
Kombucha: It is a tea beverage. It is a combination of black and green tea which is then fermented with yeast and bacteria. There are several health benefits associated with Kombucha and the most important is the probiotic effect.
Gherkins: They are made from cucumbers and are known as pickles. Cucumbers are soaked in salt and water and converted into pickles which is a powerful probiotic and useful in various digestive functions.
Buttermilk: It is a common beverage in Asian countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, and India. These countries have been making and using buttermilk for centuries. It is made by fermenting dairy products. It is a powerful probiotic and is widely used to treat many digestive problems.
Natto: It is a Japanese dish which is produced from soybean that is fermented. It is mixed with cooked rice and is considered a delicacy. It is also a powerful probiotic and rich in vitamin K2. It is associated with numerous health benefits which include preventing osteoporosis.
Cheese: It is another good source of probiotic and particularly cottage cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, etc are a good source of probiotic. It is rich in nutrition including vitamin B12, calcium, protein, etc. Cheese, when consumed in appropriate quantities, can be helpful for a healthy body.
Probiotics: An overview
Probiotics are live bacteria which are helpful in various health benefits. Lactic acid and bacteria that are used to ferment food are widely used for their health benefits. Numerous research of certain probiotic strains with respect to their health benefits has provided a positive output. They are helpful to reduce the lactose intolerance as well as the rotavirus diarrhea, which makes them more important to be added to our daily diet. There are several other health benefits proposed, but a thorough investigation is still pending.
Uses of probiotics other than gastrointestinal related benefits need to be investigated further. Consuming an adequate amount of probiotics as well as supplementing with probiotic products can help increase the numbers. Since they are useful to improve the immune system, it becomes important to have healthy probiotics in our body. Choosing the right food as well as the right supplement is important to balance the levels. A well-conducted clinical study would increase the acceptance of probiotics.
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