What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms ( live bacteria and yeasts ) that are intended to be beneficial to your wellness. It is estimated that trillions of these microorganisms live in our body out numbering our own cells. This is also known as the microbiome.
Where Do They Come From?
Probotics come from many sources. Here are a few examples:
- Our mothers at birth and/or nursing.
- The environment around us.
- The food we eat.
- The water we drink.
- Probotics products.
How Can They Help Us?
There are many ways that probiotics may help us such as:
- Occupy resources and space in your body so that they keep the “bad” bacteria in check.
- Digest food that we are not able to.
- Help with digestive challenges such as high cholesterol, constipation
- Reduce occurrence and/or severity of certain diseases
- Combat eczema
Are They The Same?
No. Different species of probotics are found to be better suited or ineffective for different situations.
For example research suggests that Lactobacillus may be highly effective for diarrhea in children caused by a certain virus (rotavirus). An appropriate treatment intervention may help them get over their diarrhea up to 3 days earlier when compared to non intervention. It is also possibly effective for high cholesterol as it was found that taking Lactobacillus probiotics may lower total cholesterol by about 10 mg/dL and low-density lipoprotein LDL “bad” cholesterol by about 9 mg/dL in people. However taking Lactobacillus probotics is possibly not effective for preventing Crohn’s disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus) relapse for people who are in remission or who have just had surgical intervention.
Do We Need To Play An Active Role To Maintain A Beneficial Microbiome?
Yes. Modern living brings with it many ways that may adversely affect your probiotics. For example:
- Antibiotics which are needed to treat diseases but affect probiotics as collateral damage.
- Being in a constant state of stress due to day to day matters.
- Indulging in junk food which favor the proliferation of “bad” bacteria in your body.
How Can We Maintain Our Microbiome?
Doing so may be easier than you think. Here are some ways to get started:
- Eat food containing them such as miso, juices, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc
- Moderate the intake of junk food
- Live happy and minimize stress
- Taking probiotic supplements
The Bottom Line?
Much research has been done on probiotics and yet we are still learning new things about it. Increasingly, we have come to recognize its role and impact on humans. As always, be moderate and monitor closely as there may be side effects. You need to understand that this does not replace established professional medical interventions.
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Sources: WebMD, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Wikipedia
Editorial: Essentials by Mor Editorial Team