Most of us tend to think that bacteria are dangerous and bad for us. However, this isn’t the case. There are many types of bacteria that are beneficial to our bodies. These live micro-organisms are called probiotics, or friendly bacteria, and can help to make your body healthier.
Usually, the human body has an optimal balance of bacteria; however, there are certain lifestyles or medical factors that can create imbalances. As a result, the disease-causing bacteria numbers can grow exponentially.
Unnecessary use of antibiotics, gastrointestinal problems, surgery, taking PPIs, chronic stress, sensitivity to gluten, and even the standard American diet can cause such imbalances.
Luckily, there are ways to redress the balance of bacteria for better overall health and well-being. The best way is to include probiotics in your daily diet.
What exactly are Probiotics?
The probiotics are a term used to describe the live bacteria which are present in fermented foods and yogurt. They can benefit your digestive system by bringing the balance of the bad and good bacteria in your microbiome in alignment.
There are different types of probiotics that offer different benefits to your health and well-being. They work in the GI tract to boost the immune system, preventing dangerous bacteria from becoming attached to the inside wall of the intestines while improving the function and balance of the intestinal lining’s natural microflora.
This ensures you have a lower risk of suffering from many different medical conditions and diseases.
- When you lose “good” bacteria in your body, for example after you take antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them.
- They can help balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep your body working the way it should.
Probiotics can be derived from natural food sources such as kefir and yogurt, but they can also be derived from foods that have been enriched with probiotics as well as from specialist supplements (1).
However, it’s usually best to get your probiotics from natural food sources.
Types of Probiotics
It is the most common probiotic. The lactobacillus probiotics are generally found in Yogurt and other fermented foods. They can help in better digestion of lactose, the sugar in milk. It also helps in treating diarrhea.
These type of probiotics can be found in some of the dairy products. It helps to ease the condition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
It is a yeast found in probiotics. It appears to help fight diarrhea and other digestive problems.
Common conditions they treat
There is increasing evidence in favour of the claims of beneficial effects attributed to probiotics. While some of the health benefits are well documented others require additional studies in order to be established.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
- Diarrhea caused by antibiotics
There is also some research that shows they’re useful for problems in other parts of your body. For example, some people say they have helped with:
- Skin conditions, like eczema
- Urinary and vaginal health
- Preventing allergies and colds
- Oral health
Most beneficial probiotic foods
Probiotic bacteria have become increasingly popular during the last two decades as a result of the continuously expanding scientific evidence pointing to their beneficial effects on human health. As a result they have been applied as various products.
Legumes and Grains
- Green Beans
- Custard Apples
Other Potential Probiotics
- Flax seeds
- Peanut butter
- Ginger Bug
- Almond Milk
- Green tea
- Fermented Foods like;
- Yogurt – This is a top probiotic source since it contains milk that has been fermented by good bacteria such as bifidobacterial and lactic acid bacteria. Not only can yogurt boost your bone health it can reduce high blood pressure and relieve unwanted symptoms associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Not every type of yogurt contains probiotics, so you need to only choose yogurts with live or active cultures.
- Pickles – Gherkins are fermented in salt and are an excellent source of probiotic bacteria that boosts digestive health.
- Buttermilk – Traditional buttermilk is the liquid that is left behind after making butter. It contains probiotics as well as valuable minerals and vitamins.
- Some cheeses – Although many kinds of cheese are fermented, they don’t all contain probiotics. Only those that have active and live cultures do. Cottage cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, and Gouda are all good examples of cheeses in which the good bacteria survive the process of aging.
There are many probiotic foods that you can add to your diet; however, if you dislike all of them, you could always try a probiotic supplement that can be taken daily to improve your overall health and well-being.
Reference (1): https://www.nccih.nih.gov