In this age of 21st century, cutting edge technology, it can indeed be agreed upon that medicine has come a long way and numerous advancements have been made. Among the more recent advancements made would be the usage of probiotics in the health industry.
Ever since the Father of Probiotics – also known as Elie Metchnikoff – discovered these microorganisms, various researches have been conducted in an attempt to help integrate them into our lives as a supplement or as an aide to modern medicine. However, before discussing their uses, we must first be familiar with what they actually are.
What Are Probiotics?
It is common understanding to many that bacteria is meant to cause diseases and do us harm – or in other words, they are “germs”. Yet, this is not so in the case of probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms which are intended to have a general beneficial effect in humans.
They commonly line the digestive tract and help support the body in ways such as absorbing nutrients and fighting infection.
There are more than 100 – 300 trillion probiotic bacteria and yeast compared to the 10 trillion cells in our body.
The most common of these friendly microorganisms are bacteria belonging to the groups Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium as well as yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. Certain popular foods also known to contain higher amounts of probiotics are kefir, kimchi, yogurt and sweet acidophilus milk.
Another particular fact to take note of, is that probiotics do exist in our bodies from the moment we are born. These good microorganisms work through a synergistic effect known as synbiotics. This is the result of the bacteria’s consumption of what is known as a prebiotic.
Essentially, the prebiotic is an olligosaccharide that ferments in the lower colon and nourishes the beneficial microbiota that live there. In this way, probiotics are able to help restore balance in the body when dysbiosis – an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in the body – occurs.
The Benefits Of Probiotics
Among one of the best examples of the benefits of probiotics, is it is usage in helping gastrointestinal issues. A well-maintained balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract is particularly important for our general health and well-being. Unfortunately, the hectic lifestyle of the modern world combined with poor food choices instead encourages the growth of bad bacteria.
Probiotics helps by restoring that imperitive balance in our digestive tract. In fact, research has shown that the intake of these microbes could help prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease, treat irritable bowel syndrome and help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis.
The next – possibly the most important – benefit of probiotics, is due to the impact they have on our immune system. A healthy immune system is necessary since it is our body’s protection against germs. When the immune system is compromised, various issues can occur such as the common cold, allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders and infections.
The general idea is that by maintaining the balance of bacteria with the intake of probiotics, we can thus ensure that a well-functioning immune system is maintained. Preliminary research has even been conducted linking them to the prevention and treatment of obesity and Type 1 as well as Type 2 diabetes.
While all these benefits do indeed sound enticing, that should by no means imply that everyone should be jumping to start investing money in probiotic products. There have been numerous reports pertaining to severe side effects such as dangerous infections in people who already have underlying medical problems.
The issue is that not all strains of bacteria have the same effect. For example, although a certain kind of Lactobacillus may prevent bacterial vaginosis, this does not imply that all types Lactobacillus could do the same.
Concluding: Probiotics Are Indeed Helpful!
In the end, it is imperitive that we weigh carefully the pros and cons of using probiotics. They are very helpful if taken as a supplement but much consideration must be made before replacing scientifically proven treatments with unproven products or practices.
Ensure that whatever products consumed are FDA approved and consult your doctor before attempting to begin any new health regime. As an overall, probiotics are useful but much remains to be learned before using them as a staple in treatments.