Probiotics are live microbes ingested through foods (kimchi, yogurt, kefir) or supplements to refill healthy gut bacteria. They help synthesize vitamins and neurochemicals required for normal brain function. An unhealthy gut can cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, UTIs, and acne. Stress disrupts the gut microbiota, so stay calm. Avoid fatty, sugary, and acidic foods. They irritate the gut.
You would want to have some bacteria in your gut. Yes, you read that right.
Not All Bacteria Is Bad
The popularity of antibacterial agents such as hand sanitizers, household cleaners, and antibiotics has made people cringe at being exposed to bacteria. To a certain extent, the fear of contact with these could be justified; some forms of bacteria do cause diseases, which is why these products are used in the first place. However, this is just one side of the story.
There are two types of bacteria — the good and the bad. You need to keep ample amounts of the good kind in your body. And this leads us to the main topic for this article — probiotics — the reason yogurts are doing very well in the worldwide market.
What Are Probiotics?
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” These are in the form of either bacteria or yeast, often found in the digestive tract.
Probiotics are now highly valued for their ability to promote gut health. There are several known types, but the most commonly used strains are from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera.
You see, your digestive tract is a storehouse to almost 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms. These outnumber your cells by a ratio of 10:1.
Researchers are now saying that these microorganisms have a symbiotic relationship that is crucial for proper bodily functions. But of course, for this to be beneficial for the body, there should be a balance between the good and the bad kinds. Ideally, you need to have more of the good kinds.
Having more of the bad kinds would compromise your intestinal flora and overall health. Consuming foods rich in probiotics can help prevent this from happening, as these will repopulate your gut with helpful bacteria.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh, cultured coconut milk, miso, yogurt, and kefir. You can also buy these in supplement form.
Why Gut Health Matters
Contrary to the common belief that your organs function as individual parts, experts now have reason to believe that this is not really the case. A good example of this would be the relationship between your gut and brain. Vitamins and neurochemicals essential for proper brain function are manufactured in the gut. When your gut is compromised, its ability to manufacture the said agents is diminished, which can make you vulnerable to a range of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and Parkinson’s disease.
Unhealthy gut has also been linked to autoimmune diseases like diabetes, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other Health Benefits Of Probiotics
A study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Hospital & Clinics showed how obese patients who received gastric bypass surgery, a weight loss procedure, were able to keep the excess weight off with the help of probiotics. The University of Maryland on the other hand says that probiotics could give support to urinary tract infection sufferers.
Disturbed emotional states such as stress, depression, and anxiety can alter the gut flora, which, in turn, can possibly lead to the formation of acne. Oral consumption and topical application of probiotics has shown promising results.
Several sources would easily tell you that probiotics are great for digestive health. However, digging into a pint of yogurt is not enough. You also have to watch what you eat as a whole. Foods that are high in fat, overloaded with sugar, highly acidic, and those that contain caffeine can irritate the gut lining.
Good digestive health starts with a healthy, balanced diet. Throw in some probiotics, but don’t forget to put some of the other known healthy stuff in there too.