Probiotics the Good Bacteria
While we do worry about what we eat and the result that it will have on our bodies, we might not necessarily concern ourselves with the organs that digest and process our food; mainly our stomach and intestines. For that reason it’s a good idea to take a closer looks at probiotics and how essential they are to our body’s well-being.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that are quite similar to microorganisms that benefit us that can be found in the human stomach. Probiotics are also known as “good bacteria” or “friendly bacteria.” Usually they are available for consumption through dietary supplements as well as food, and can also be used as alternative and complementary medicine.
People will often use probiotics as complementary and alternative medicine in order to both treat and prevent certain kinds of illness and also to support general wellness. There is also a limited amount of evidence that can support the use of certain probiotics. There is much more scientific knowledge that is necessary in order for us to gain knowledge about the appropriate use and safety of probiotics. While the effects that can be gained from one strain or species of probiotics, they do no necessarily hold to be true for other types, or even for different methods of preparation of the same species or strain. It is important that you inform your health care provider(s) about any and all complementary and alternative medication practices that you may use. Offer them a complete picture of what you do in order to manage your health.
There is still much debate between experts on how to exactly define what probiotics are. The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have developed one widely used definition that states that probiotics are “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
It is also worth mentioning that probiotics are not the same thing as prebiotics, which are nondigestible ingredients in food that stimulate the activity and/or the growth of microorganisms that benefit us that are already in our colon’s. Whenever a probiotic is mixed with a prebiotic , they form a synbiotic.
Probiotics can be found in a variety of dietary supplements like powders, tablets and capsules, foods, and in other forms as well. Such foods that contain probiotics are yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso, soy beverages, some juices and tempeh. In probiotic supplements and foods, the bacteria might have either originally existed or were added during preparation.
Uses of Probiotics
Friendly bacteria are important for the proper development of the human immune system, to guard against microorganisms that could potentially cause disease, and to the absorption and digestion of nutrients and food. Every person has their own special mix of bacteria.
Probiotics have the potential to either halt or suppress the growth and activity of certain medical conditions such as:
- Infectious diarrhea
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (e.g., Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis)
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) which is a bacterium that causes a most number of ulcers and several types of stomach inflammation
- Periodontal disease
- Vaginal infections
- Respiratory and stomach infection that children acquire while in daycare
- Skin infections
As you can see, probiotics are an essential part of staying healthy and building up your immune system. Everyday we are finding out more and learning new ways about what it means to eat and be healthy, so make sure you get your daily dose of friendly bacteria!