Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are also called “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria.” Probiotics are available mainly in the form of dietary supplements and foods. One widely used definition, developed by the WorId Health Organization is that probiotics are “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
Foods containing probiotics are yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso, tempeh, and many juices and soy beverages. In probiotic foods and supplements, the bacteria may have been present originally or added during preparation.
Most probiotics are bacteria similar to those naturally found in human guts, especially in those of breastfed infants. Most often, the bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.
The digestive tract of an adult human being contains about 100 trillion micro organisms. This highly complex micro flora exists as a delicate balance of beneficial and potentially harmful organisms. Under certain conditions such as stress, extensive travelling and antibiotic treatment, the balance of this natural eco system can be upset. During these periods the number of beneficial organisms declines and harmful organisms increases, which often results in stomach problems such as diarrhea and constipation. This unbalanced micro flora can in turn affect the other bodily functions including the immune system.
- There are several health benefits of probiotics. They are useful in:
- Infectious diarrhea, Irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and colon cancer.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease).
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium that causes ulcers.
- Tooth decay and periodontal disease.
- Vaginal infections.
- Skin infection and lactose intolerance.
- Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Improving immune function and preventing infections.
- Antibiotic-associated diarrhea, reducing inflammation.
- Improving mineral absorption.
- Preventing harmful bacterial growth under stress.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
In view of the benefits, include probiotic foods in your daily diet without fail. Checkout Jindal Naturecure Institute for more information about Naturopathy.