Benefits of Probiotic Supplements
We are all aware of the harm and damage the bacteria can do. However we are also aware that there are 'good' bacteria which we need in our bodies for optimum health. One strain of good bacteria which has gained recent popularity is probiotics and the general availability in chemists and even supermarkets is a rising trend.
Probiotics can be defined as live microbial food ingredients that provide benefits to the wellbeing and health of the consumer. The word probiotics is derived from the Greek word for 'life'. The concept for probiotics is by eating the right balance of bacteria then the significant roles that intestinal microbes play in human health can be supported.
Probiotics are complemented by prebiotics which are ingredients in food that provide the growth or activity of a number of types of bacterial for the benefit of host health. Prebiotics are components in food that are nondigestible and provide benefits to the host by selectively activating the growth of particular bacteria in the colon. Beneficial prebiotics are combined with probiotics to encourage their numbers and overall performance. When probiotics and prebiotics are consumed at same time then they create a symbiotic relationship, operating together to provide the best possible results for health.
The human gut contains around 400 different species of bacteria, normally referred to as the bacterial flora. In a normal individual this flora is stable. However this balance can easily be disrupted by many factors including diet, antibiotic consumption, stress, immune status, consumption of alcohol, etc. It is considered that adding probiotics to the diet may restore the floral balance, in particular in the small intestine. Prebiotics amplify the beneficial impact of probiotics by assisting them in the fight with harmful bacteria and by complementing overall performance as prebiotics tend to function mainly in the large intestine.
What are Probiotics?
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are lactic acid bacteria, are common probiotics and are the best probiotics found in foods. In supplements, however, Escherichia and Enterococcus can also be consumed. The lactic acid bacteria are commonly used in the food industry to produce lactic acid from carbohydrates and it is this process that can produce a sour taste in foods such as yogurt to reduce spoilage.
Many fermented foods naturally contain lactobacilli. These include yogurt, sauerkraut, Yakult along with miso and tempeh. However, many fermented foods do not contain live cultures as food processing reduces the levels of probiotics. Dairy products may contain some amount of probiotics although the actual levels may be masked by starter cultures that are added in their productions. For many individuals probiotic supplements may be necessary and hopefully this answers the question "What is Probiotics".
The benefits to your health from taking probiotics is believed to be sensitive to the particular strain consumed. For this reason it is generally considered difficult to suggest a suitable level of probiotics to provide a health benefit. In addition, probiotics are particularly sensitive to the environment (heat and moisture). In general, microbes will last longer at reduced temperatures although there are some products that are stabilized and do not require refrigeration.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food fibres that provide a beneficial effect by activating the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. To be most effective, prebiotics should not be digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract but release in the lower tract to be used as a source of fuel by the lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the colon. Typically, prebiotics are carbohydrates such as oligosaccharides.
Probiotics are found in foods such as soybeans, unrefined wheat, unrefined barley, bananas, asparagus, tomatoes, flaxseed, legumes, etc.
Benefits of Probiotics and Prebiotics:
Prevention of constipation and diarrhea
May provide ant carcinogenic and antimicrobial benefits
Reduction of triglyceride levels
Stablisation of blood glucose levels
Boosting the immune system
Please consult your health care practitioner before supplementing with probiotics.
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