“There are more bacteria in our intestinal tract than cells in our body.” -Jeffrey Bland
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad.
Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
Probiotics are naturally found in your body. You can also find them in some foods and supplements.
Let’s take a look at all the ways probiotic bacteria aid us.
Manufacture vitamins in our foods and bodies: BI, B2, B,, Bs, B., B12, K, and sometimes vitamin A.
- Digest lactose.
- Allow some people with lactose intolerance to eat yogurt and cultured dairy products.
- Help regulate peristalsis and regular bowel movements.
- Digest protein to free amino acids.
- Establish good digestion in infants preventing colic, diaper rash, and gas.
- Produce antibiotics and antifungals that prevent colonization of harmful bacteria and fungus.
- Protect against development of allergic conditions.
- Increase the number of immune system cells.
- Manufacture essential fatty acids.
- Create lactic acid that balances intestinal pH.
- Break down bacterial toxins and prevent production of bacterial toxins and colitis.
- Have anti-tumor and anticancer effects.
- Protect from xenobiotics like mercury, pesticides, radiation, and harmful pollutants.
- Break down bile acids.
- Manufacture hydrogen peroxide, which has antiseptic effects.
- Probiotics play a role in normalization of serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Breakdown and rebuild hormones.
- Promote healthy metabolism.
In addition to these nutritional and digestive benefits, probiotics enhance immune function. They manufacture antibiotics, such as acidophilin, produced by acidophilus, which are effective against many types of bacteria.
- Probiotics also help us metabolize foreign substances, like mercury and pesticides, and protect us from damaging radiation and harmful pollutants.
- Friendly bacteria also help us in other ways. Studies have repeatedly shown that lactobacillus bacteria can help normal cholesterol levels.
- Probiotics also rebuild and break down hormones such as estrogen. Probiotics aid digestive function, improves peristalsis, and help normalize bowel transit time.
Finally, bacterial balance is essential for healthy metabolism. Many superthin people have been able to gain weight when their bacteria were rebalanced, although the mechanism is not yet understood.
Probiotic supplements may be beneficial for the following health conditions:
- Vaginal infections
- Recurrent urinary infections
- Diarrhea in adults and children
- Complications from antibiotic therapy
- Traveler’s diarrhea and/or colitis
- Lactose intolerance
- Immune system stimulation
- Small bowel bacterial overgrowth
- Kidney stones
- Elevated blood cholesterol
- Allergy, including food allergies
- Inflammatory bowel diseases and pouchitis
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lupus erythematosus
Alcohol-induced liver disease, bacterial infections, antibiotics use, high stress levels, alcohol intake, poor diet, and a number of other factors can disrupt the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria in our gut.
Often, bacteria and fungi will proliferate, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and gas. If left unchecked, they can contribute to long-term conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Now that you all are aware about the health benefits rendered by probiotics, I would recommend you all to include some source of this useful bacteria in your diet.
Here’s a list of some foods that are “probiotic-friendly” :-
Probiotic yogurt is linked to a number of health benefits. It may also be more suitable than milk for people with lactose intolerance.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk drink. It is made by adding kefir grains to cow’s or goat’s milk.Click me to read more about Kefir!
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product. It is a popular, high-protein substitute for meat. It also contains a decent amount of vitamin B12, a nutrient found mainly in animal products.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste and a popular Japanese seasoning. It is rich in several important nutrients and may reduce the risk of cancer and stroke, especially in women.
Click me to buy Miso sauce online!
Pickles are cucumbers that have been pickled in salty water and fermented. They are low in calories and high in vitamin K. However, pickles made using vinegar do not have probiotic effects.
6. Traditional Buttermilk
Buttermilk is low in fat and calories, but contains several important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, riboflavin, calcium and phosphorus.
7. Some types of Cheese
Only some types of cheese contain probiotics, including cheddar, mozzarella and gouda. Cheese is very nutritious, and may benefit heart and bone health.
Almost every probiotics food list includes sauerkraut, which is finely cut cabbage. Various probiotic bacteria ferment it, like leuconostoc, lactobacillus and pedicoccus. It is a good source of Vitamin C. The presence of antioxidants in Vitamin C helps protect cells from free radicals. If free radicals are not neutralized, they damage healthy cells causing inflammation that leads to chronic diseases.
9. Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate is also rich in probiotic. These help in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Dark chocolates also contain high amounts of anti-oxidants, which help in controlling the free radicals and oxidation of cells. Here’s another good reason to consume more of dark chocolates without feeling guilty.
10. Soy Milk
Soy milk, made from pressing soy beans, is naturally laden with probiotics. It is a complete and nutrient-dense drink. The packaged soy milk available in the markets may also have some extra live cultures added. Soy milk is also rich in protein and is lactose free, making it perfect for people who are lactose intolerant.
11. Idli, Dosa And Other South-Indian foods:
Amongst Indian foods, the South-Indian cuisine is also a rich source of probiotic. Idli, dosa and other such food items are prepared by fermenting rice and lentils. This makes it high in live cultures of the good bacteria. These food items are quite mild and low in fat, making them a healthy food option.
Dhokla, a popular Gujarati dish too is made by fermenting gram flour. The fermentation process renders the live culture the perfect environment for growth. Another form of dhokla is also prepared by fermenting rice flour. This tea is a rich source of probiotic. Both the recipes use curd, adding an extra layer of probiotic to the dishes.
A normal healthy person can consume probiotic food containing about two million live organisms. Those suffering from diabetes, cancer and other such long term illness should consult their doctors before incorporating probiotic foods and drinks in their regular diet.
But remember, excessive consumption of probiotic can lead to indigestion and bloating.
So, add a little probiotic in your daily diet. Your gut will thank you for it!