Why Your Body Needs Probiotics
Probiotics are live “good” bacteria that are beneficial for your gut’s health. Yogurt, miso, kimchi, and a number of fermented vegetables are a few examples of foods rich in this good bacteria. Probiotics are also an ingredient in diarrhea medicine for adults and kids.
Yes, you heard it right — there is such a thing as good bacteria. Your body is filled with both good and bad bacteria.
Kids are often told that bacteria and viruses can cause them to get sick, and for the most part, this is true. What most people are not aware of is that the body is also home to good bacteria. Numbering in the trillions, good bacteria keep a person’s digestion, immune system, skin, and mental faculties in tip-top condition.
Common types of probiotics
There are many types of bacteria, although the ones found in probiotics come from one of two strains. These are:
The Lactobacillus strain is commonly found in the small intestine, mouth, and vagina. This type produces an enzyme used to break down milk. During the process, lactic acid is produced, which prevents the ballooning of the harmful bacteria population in your body.
This is a strain more commonly found in some dairy products and supplements. Compared to the first strain, this species breaks down lactose into substances that the body can absorb more easily and use for its benefit. It also works in enhancing the immune system.
What important things can probiotics do for the human body?
- Give your gut a chance to heal
Anti-inflammatories and antibiotics are a few types of medicines that can wreak havoc on your gut. Although they are designed to cure certain diseases, they are merciless when it comes to bacteria. Like a tsunami, these medications can lay waste to the bacteria in your body, both food and bad.
The process disrupts the delicate balance in your gut and weakens your immune system in the process. Organisms such as certain forms of yeast could use this opportunity to multiply exponentially. Yeast populations flourish when they are fed sugar, developing a condition known as leaky gut in the process.
Without any intervention, your condition could get worse. You may end up developing autoimmune disease. This is why you need probiotics.
Regular consumption of probiotics, especially while taking anti-inflammatory medications, allows your gut to get back on track. It restores the population of good bacteria in your stomach, giving your immune system the boost it needs to function properly.
- Promote regular bowel movement
Probiotics therapy has been known to help people who have diarrhea. Studies have shown that the condition of infants and younger children given controlled dosages of Lactobacillus GG improved more quickly than in children who did not take probiotics. Another study that included adults taking antibiotics showed that probiotics reduced occurrences with diarrhea.
The same treatment can even benefit people who have constipation. Studies indicate that probiotics can soften stools, making them easier to pass. As a result, people who have constipation experience more regular bowel movements after taking probiotics.
The jury is still out on the effects of probiotics in people who have irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Several studies have been conducted with results being mixed, but given these conditions are difficult to treat by themselves, trying a round of probiotics may be worth considering, at the very least. As there are different strains of bacteria, finding the most effective one for the condition may require some patience.
- Help maintain urogenital health
Although probiotics are more known for their effects on the intestinal tract, they have also been seen as beneficial for women, in particular. It may be surprising for some to know that the vagina has a bacterial ecosystem that is similar to that of the intestines. A healthy level of Lactobacilli bacteria strains keeps harmful microorganisms at bay.
Yeast growth, urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis are a few problems that can be solved with probiotics. By including probiotics in the diet, the balance of microflora is achieved and maintained.
How to safely take probiotics
Generally, probiotics are safe to take because much of the bacteria can be found in a healthy digestive system. However, it might be worth asking your doctor before undergoing probiotic therapy. This is especially true if you have any serious health conditions or are taking any medication.
For instance, fermented foods such as sauerkraut and tempeh are rich in probiotics that are useful in treating yeast infections. However, there might be ingredients in such foods that can also feed the yeast, causing them to multiply as well. As such, doctors will need to treat your yeast condition first before recommending probiotics for anything else.
Although good bacteria can be found in many probiotics, each strain offers different benefits. Plus, it is worth knowing the dosage to maximize the benefits. Let your healthcare provider know what you plan to do to ensure that you do it safely and correctly.
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