Officially, probiotics is defined as “Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.
Microbes are used as probiotics, and the most common are bifido Bacteria and Lactic Acid Bacteria. Along with these, some variants of yeast and bacilli are also found to be helpful. Probiotics are best found in fermented products like yogurt, which contains live cultures that are specially added.
The word is thought to be derived from the Latin “PRO” and the Greek adjective “BIOS”, which means life. In simple terms, probiotics are defined as the good bacteria in our body.
There are bacteria of all kinds, types, and varieties all around us. Some are good bacteria and some are considered harmful. Good bacteria are those that help our body do its jobs on a daily basis. Any imbalance in these bacteria can lead to digestive issues, yeast infections, chronic fatigue, flu like illnesses, etc.
If bad bacteria find their way in to our system, such as E.Coli, Staph, etc. we fall sick, as these are potentially harmful to our body. If preventive measures are not taken on time, they can lead to major health problems.
Our intestines are the beneficiaries of bacteria- the good type, that is. If your system is well balanced, you feel healthy and energetic. Our body, and in particular, the intestinal flora, is a very complicated and complex system, where even the slightest imbalance can cause upsets.
Why do we need probiotics?
These days, awareness about health and wellness, and the spread of this awareness courtesy the internet, is ever expanding. Probiotics have also found their place in this milieu of information. They are now given due regard and importance in a person’s overall dietary habits and health.
While growing up, we were always taught about the importance of curd or yoghurt, as these provided the necessary ingredients for good digestion though the ingestion of probiotics. Now, of course, there is a lot more awareness about probiotics and its benefits.
Disruption in the intestinal flora of any kind leads to an overall feeling of discomfort. Some issues that could occur are things like:
- Feeling bloated
- Infections due to yeast formation
- Flu-like signs
- Chronic fatigue
All of the above can wreak havoc with your overall sense of wellbeing, but there are two more aspects that one must know about:
1. Physical symptoms aside, the lack of probiotics or some imbalance in the intestinal flora can lead to mental and emotional symptoms too. Sometimes, we don’t realize why the symptoms given below are so troublesome, and most tend to put it down due to stress and overwork etc. While stress also plays a part in messing up your digestion, probiotics have to bee given due consideration as a possible reason. Some symptoms are listed below-
- Brain feels foggy
- Concentration problems
- Loss of memory and irritability
2. Probiotics play a very essential role in keeping our intestines clean. If the walls of your intestines are clean, your body can absorb nutrients better, and the bowel functions works very well too. B Vitamins are naturally manufactured with the help of good bacteria.
Some of these B vitamins include-
- Folic acid
- Niacin or B3
- Pyridoxine or B6
These bacteria are well received by the body in the pill form as well. In this way, we add good bacteria back in to our system, especially when our diet is unable to cater to these needs.
What are the best sources?
Food is the best source of probiotics, although specific problems do require additional consumption in the form of pills. Food sources are the best way to get probiotics. Some of the best are given below:
Cultured dairy products like:
- Natural cheese
Green foods are also good sources:
- Wheat grass
Non dairy sources rich in probiotics include:
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
- Kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage)
- Tempeh (a fermented soybean product)
- Soy sauce
Non-dairy sources may or may not contain probiotics, so you need to look at the labels that should mention the ingredients and the inclusion of “live cultures”.
Green foods are powerhouses of important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They work very well to stimulate the immune system and aid the detoxification of our body.
However, you must be wary of probiotic supplements that contain glucose or sugar, as these two ingredients hamper the growth of Lactobacilli, which is a good bacterium that our body needs. If you are lactose intolerant, you could consider the same in pill form.
A sensibly planned diet will ensure that you get all your nutrients and probiotics required for digestion to benefit your health in the long run. Food is the fuel humans need for energy, and probiotics keep the digestive machinery in good working condition.
Go probiotic today!