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The Pros of Probiotics

The natural body boosters

One sunny Sunday morning I met my friends for brunch. We got talking, as usual, about the latest trends, fashion-buzz, make-up, and movies. At one point, we were engaged in an animated conversation about a movie, when out of nowhere one of my friends mentioned the term ‘probiotics’. Uncertain about the message she was trying to convey, the rest of us looked at her in puzzlement. Why would she mention probiotics when we were talking about a movie? Seeing our blank expressions, she went on to explain that she had read about probiotics in passing and was wondering if any of us knew more about its health benefits.

That question drew our conversation for the afternoon. We spoke at length but failed to arrive at a conclusion. Determined to find out more, I did a bit of research… and here’s what I found.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are alive! They are living microorganisms known to benefit health. While most of these microorganisms are bacteria, some of them may be yeast. The World Health Organisation defines probiotics as any living microo10898097_lrganism that benefits health when ingested.

How do they help?

Good bacteria are found naturally in our body. They are passed to a newborn through the birth canal. In the digestive tract, these bacteria filter out and eliminate toxins and other substances that are harmful to the body. An increase in bad bacteria can cause diarrhoea, urinary tract infections or lower our immunity.

The health benefits of probiotics range from improving digestive health to dealing with vaginal yeast infections; from treating urinary tract infections to preventing eczema in children. Probiotics also help in preventing or reducing the severity of colds or flu by strengthening our immune system. A stronger immune system would mean better resistance to germs, allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders, etc.

Some studies have found that probiotics may improve brain function, reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

What are the common sources of probiotics?

Probiotics are found in different foods and forms. Natural sources of probiotics include plain unflavoured yoghurt, kefir, miso, aged cheese, kimchi, tempeh and some soya products.

Probiotics in the market are found in various forms, such as powders, tablets, and capsules. It does not matter how they are consumed. What matters is how rich the density of viable bacteria in the product ingested is. Expert opinion is that an effective quantity varies, from as little as 50 million to as much as 1 trillion live cells per dose. The most beneficial forms of probiotic bacteria fall under two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Now, each group has different species and each species, different strains. Each of these different strains has different benefits for the body. For example, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgarius, and Streptococcus thermophilus help decrease the risk of diarrhoea, while Lactobacillus bulgaricus may help relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Well, I can’t wait to meet my girlfriends and share my newfound information on probiotics with them. Perhaps we could go ‘probiotic shopping’. Sounds fun, right?

References:

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics?page=2

http://www.onhealth.com/probiotics/article.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/6-healing-benefits-of-probiotics

http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/diet-medications/probiotics

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264721.php

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Kavitha Mallavarapu
Posted by ezyhealth on Jul 8 2014. Filed under Medical Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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