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Probiotics – The Friendly Bacteria



Friendly Bacteria’ to most people is an oxymoron at which they would raise eyebrows skeptically, let alone consume it. In the last couple of decades though, probiotics (our bacteria friends) have been fast gaining popularity and acceptance. We need to be aware of what exactly the term ‘probiotic’ means to be able to decide if or not we are willing to make it a part of diet as food or supplements.


What are probiotics?

In simple words, probiotics are right Bacteria in the right places that help digestion. The human body is a host for a number of bacteria and other micro-organisms, especially the digestive tract and the gut region. These bacteria in the gut, help absorb nutrients better and aid digestion.


How do probiotics work?

Probiotics are naturally found in the body too, but due to heavy medical doses, illness or other physical ailments, the number of probiotics in the body may reduce and supplementation is necessary. Though there isn’t much research data available to support this, probiotics can be consumed as supplements even generally help digestion.


Categorizing roughly,

- Probiotics are needed after heavy doses of medication to replenish the Bacteria in the gut.

- They help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the body to keep it functioning properly.


Types of Probiotics


The two main categories of probiotics include

i) Bifidobacterium

This bacteria is found in a number of dairy products. It is commonly known to ease irritated bowels and other bowel syndromes.


ii) Lactobacillus

This the most popular type of probiotics. It is extremely beneficial for people who are lactose intolerant. These are present abundantly in yogurt and other fermented foods.

 

How do they help?

Probiotics help move food through your gut. Probiotics are said to improve a number of disorders of the gut as well as other parts of the body, including:

i) Diarrhea

ii) Irritable bowel syndrome

iii) Inflammatory bowel disorders

iv) Eczema and other skin disorders

v) Oral health

vi) Urinary and Vaginal health

vii) Preventing allergies and colds


With the increase in the popularity of probiotics, prebiotics are also fast gaining popularity. Prebiotics is a term that encompasses the non-digestible carbohydrates on which the probiotics thrive. Though probiotics are safe for consumption for most of the people, some people with allergies, problems with the immune systems should consult the physicians before consumption.