We are in a complicated relationship with bacteria, and our body wants to maintain that relationship forever. Bacteria are like a true friend who protects you from troubles, without even taking credit for it. They act like a shield so that no harm is caused to our body. Unfortunately, bacteria are mostly viewed in a negative light as something that makes you sick. Have you ever wondered if bacteria could be healthy and friendly? Yes, you read that right! However, very few people know that the human body has two kinds of bacteria — good and bad bacteria. So, let’s learn about probiotic bacteria and some health benefits of probiotics.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are good bacteria that help keep your body healthy and working well. In the Greek language, probiotics mean “for life”. As per WHO, probiotic bacteria are those living organisms that provide many health benefits when administered in adequate amounts in the human body. It is estimated that a ratio of 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria is what makes for a healthy balance in the body.
You may be surprised to know that probiotic bacteria have become increasingly popular during the last two decades owing to their health benefits. This is because there is continuously growing scientific evidence pointing to their beneficial effects on human health. Obviously, you would like to know what benefits make them so popular. But first, let us take you through the role of probiotics in our body.
Role of probiotics:
The main job of probiotics, or good bacteria, is to maintain a healthy balance in your body as they are useful and friendly for your gut health. They help to fight off bad bacteria that you might have consumed (through food or drinks) and make you feel better. Probiotics are necessary, as they support your immune function and control inflammation. In addition, they support the cells that line your gut and aid in digestion. As they say, a healthy gut ensures a happy body and mind. So, don’t forget to include probiotics in your diet for a happy life.
How do Probiotics work?
Maybe you must still be confused about how this actually works and how you can get benefitted from probiotics. Don’t fret; we have got your back. We are exposed to different types of microbes throughout our life, each working collectively to perform different functions. However, the most important ones are those which are present in our digestive system. They improve food digestion and consumption while balancing many deficiencies in our digestive system. Alternatively, many bad microbes often take good bacteria’s positions and digest our food incorrectly. They even add some toxins to our food during the digestive process. In such cases, one should consume probiotics, as they regenerate our digestive system with good microbes that neutralize the harmful ones.
For a better understanding, let us have a look at this example. A person feels good and relaxed by consuming fermented buttermilk, which is acidic. This happens because of two factors. Firstly, fermented milk contains acids, which kill bad bacteria, and at the same time, has good bacteria, which directly fill the space of the just-killed bad bacteria.
Benefits of Probiotics:
There are numerous benefits of probiotics. Probiotics aid in digestion, especially of hard foods. It so happens that whenever we consume any hard-to-digest food, the good bacteria in our gut help digest it. As a result, they consume food our body can’t digest and helps prevent bloating. This way, we share a symbiotic relationship with the gut bacteria.
Probiotics are not just important for our digestive system but also for thought perspective. If the number of good and healthy bacteria in our gut is large, it helps us maintain a good gut-brain connection. Good bacteria also enhance our thought processes and remove brain fog.
In some people, they may also help in fighting headaches, nausea, fatigue and dealing with sugar and processed carbohydrates cravings. According to research, the health benefits of probiotics extend beyond improving gut health. For example, some people say that probiotics have helped them with:
- Skin conditions, like eczema
- Urinary and vaginal health
- Preventing allergies and colds
- Oral health
Types of bacteria
The field of bacteria is vast, and every other day new research is being done on this topic. Out of 10 cells in a human body, 9 are bacteria cells, and 1 is a human cell. So, it is crucial to keep the bacteria in our bodies happy. Healthy and mindful eating can help us achieve this goal. However, one must understand that only 10% of the bacteria are harmful, and the rest 90% are good for us.
Known as a good bacteria, probiotics are found in yogurt and different fermented foods. They are important in recovering from diarrhoea and digestive issues and treating diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.
On the other hand, prebiotics supports the growth and activity of probiotics. Basically, prebiotics is the “food source” for good bacteria. They act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Some examples of prebiotics include breast milk, soybeans, raw oats, unrefined wheat and unrefined barley. Prebiotics are also found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates.
Probiotics and Food Products
After knowing the benefits of probiotics, you would undoubtedly like to know how to increase the number of good bacteria in your body through foods, drinks and supplements. You can introduce these foods and drinks into your diet at any point in the day. A few suggestions for some of the probiotic-rich foods you can add to your diet include:
- Yogurt– one of the best sources of probiotics
- Kombucha– a fermented black or green tea drink.
- Tempeh- a fermented soybean product. It forms a firm patty whose flavor is described as nutty, earthy, or similar to that of a mushroom.
- Kefir– a fermented probiotic milk drink. It is made by adding kefir grains to cow’s or goat’s milk.
- Sauerkraut– a finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria
- Kimchi– Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side dish. Cabbage is usually the main ingredient, but it can also be made from other vegetables.
Believe it or not, but buttermilk, fermented pickles and some types of cheese- including cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda — contain probiotics. However, you can also take probiotics supplements if you can’t eat any of these foods. But there is a lack of research on the efficiency of probiotics supplements. So, it is advisable to always consult your doctor before taking any supplement. Also, make sure to check the ingredients of the product before consuming it.
Do you want to give probiotics a try? Of course, but before that, always consider the quantity that you should begin with. In general, probiotic foods and supplements are thought to be safe for most people as they don’t cause any harm. But at the same time, remember that not all probiotics behave the same way and have the same effects. Each has its own individual benefits. However, the key is to start taking them in moderation and, later on, increase the amount. Therefore, the easiest way to introduce probiotics into your diet is by consuming yogurt or buttermilk, rather than probiotics supplements. For more queries, suggestions or feedback, feel free to reach out to us.