Probiotics are simply the opposite of Antibiotics! Probiotics support healthy gut bacteria and Antibiotics destroy that same bacteria. Probiotics are those tiny micro-organisms aka microflora (the good bacteria) in your gut! Yes, there is good and bad microflora which are both beneficial and harmful for us, so it’s important that your gut has a proportionate balance of both. There many studies and research papers that show how Probiotics have helped to improve problems with indigestion, bloating, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and a weak immune system, just to name a few. They may also help prevent our body from certain infections like vaginal infections and UTI (urinary tract infections).
Types of Probiotics Species & Strains
The majorly consumed Probiotics strains are from these two species:
Lactobacillus bacteria are found naturally in the mouth, small intestine, and vagina. Lactobacillus plays an important role in human metabolism, as it helps our body in absorbing nutrients and minerals. It also helps to produce lactase (enzymes that help to breakdown lactose or milk sugar) and produces lactic acid which controls the growth of bad bacteria.
Bifidobacterium bacteria are found naturally in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and human breast milk. These are the most commonly used Probiotics foods and supplements. It boosts the immunity, reduces allergic symptoms, inflammation, and lowers the pH level of the intestine or vagina. Bifidobacterium hinders the growth of the bad bacteria that may result in causing vaginal or urinary tract infections.
What is Prebiotics? Is it the same as Probiotics?
No, many people confuse these two terms – prebiotics and probiotics, whereas these two are entirely different. Prebiotics is a type of soluble fiber that Probiotics use as a fuel to stimulate the growth of the good bacteria in your gut. The major source of Prebiotics can be fiber-rich fruits and vegetables like banana, garlic, asparagus, onions, artichokes, and leeks.
Holistic Health Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics is a big buzzword amongst health enthusiasts. When antibiotics create an imbalance of bacteria (microflora) in our gut, Probiotics helps to restore that balance by encouraging the growth of the good bacteria.
The common health symptoms that can be benefited with the help of Probiotics are:
1. Digestive Health
Digestive health problems like diarrhea are common side-effects when taking antibiotic treatment. As mentioned earlier, antibiotics sometimes create an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in our digestive system, while removing the infection, which can lead to diarrhea. Probiotics are also helpful with other forms of diarrhea, not just antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Having loose stools can be caused by consumption of contaminated food (mostly in travelers), eating foods that might trigger an allergic reaction, illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and bloating. Some researchers have shown that Probiotics are also helpful in reducing unhealthy autoimmune responses.
2. Women’s Health
Women suffering from vaginal or urinary tract infections (UTI’s) have benefited from the use of Probiotics along with their conventional treatment. Probiotics help to restore the good bacteria in the vaginal flora and maintain good microflora balance meaning a less foul odor, less discharge and it may also help to offset the symptoms of menopause.
3. Mental Health
Several types of research have linked the gut microbiome to our mental or physical health. Poor digestive health can make you feel miserable and can contribute to various mental health issues. Probiotics complement other health treatment modalities and aid in improving symptoms of mental health like mood swings, stress, anxiety, and depression.
4. Heart Health
Probiotics may help to keep your heart healthy by lowering the bad cholesterol level (LDL), blood pressure and controlling blood sugar levels. According to certain studies, it is found that people who eat Probiotic rich foods or take supplements have better total cholesterol levels.
5. Skin Health
The friendly microbiome in our gut not only helps with improved digestion, but it also helps to absorb the healthy nutrients and minerals from our foods and removes toxins by controlling the bad bacteria, giving you healthy looking skin. If the microflora in your gut is not balanced it can lead to certain chronic inflammation, acne or skin problems.
The Natural Sources of Probiotics
The Best Natural Probiotics food sources that you can add in your daily diet are:
- Dairy products like Sour Milk (traditional Buttermilk), Yogurt, Kefir
- Fermented Soy products like Miso, Tempeh, Natto
- Some types of Cheese including Gouda, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Cottage cheese
- Fermented Vegetables like Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kimchi
- Beverages like aged Wines and Beer
- Fermented tea like Kombucha
- Some Dark Chocolates are also known to be a good source
- Brined green Olives
- Sourdough Bread
Apart from these super healthy food choices, you can also opt for Probiotic dietary supplements, because some of these may not be easily available to you or they may not suit your taste preferences.
Why Probiotics Dietary Supplements?
You can find the combination of different strains of Probiotics through a single supplement or a combination of supplements (as recommended by your clinician, doctor or any health practitioner). Probiotic supplements help to improve the gut microflora live culture and promote colonization of the multiple strains of good bacteria.
“Get your probiotics through a supplement that offers a variety of strains (at least 10), including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, and contains at least 10 billion active bacteria per capsule.” Click & Tweet!
– Dr. David Perlmutter, Best-selling Author of ‘Grain Brain’
Are Probiotics Supplements Safe To Use?
Yes, Probiotic supplements are safe for anyone, unless you are suffering from serious health issues or allergies. In most cases, studies have shown that there are no side effects, and it is uncertain to say that, as the safety of one may differ from the other depending on the health conditions of the person. In any case, it is always advisable to take Probiotics after consulting your trusted health practitioner.
If you have any questions about which Probiotic foods or supplements you should incorporate in your diet, you can ask our Alternative & Holistic Health Coach at any time to know what will be best for you!