Probiotics – Background and Health Benefits

Probiotics are live microorganisms normally found in human gut. Also, they can be found in some foods we consume daily. They are considered as good bacteria as they help in the normal digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as maintaining the normal flora of the digestive and urinary tract. Maintaining substantial amounts of probiotics is essential in keeping the body healthy.

Balance of Good and Bad Bacteria

To maintain the optimal health of your digestive system, the number of good bacteria inside your gastrointestinal tract should be much higher than the harmful bacteria. Preferably their ratio should be 5:1, five good bacteria in every bad bacterium. Equilibrium of normal flora is commonly affected by intake of contraceptives, antibiotics, refined foods and chlorinated drinking water. Other factors involved are poor digestion and elimination, unhealthy diet, and stress.

What Probiotics Do

Severe alteration of the equilibrium between the good and the bad bacteria can lead to various health conditions. To prevent this from happening, consuming foods rich in probiotics and taking supplements is highly valuable. Aside from the digestive benefits of probiotics, they also help in the production of enzymes, elimination of parasites and viruses in the body, enhancement of immune system function, and regulation of pH by creating hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid which lowers down the pH value. Low pH is necessary to keep the balance of natural flora in urinary system.

Other Conditions that Can Be Addressed by Probiotics

Probiotics can also assist in treating different conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), vaginal infections, infectious diarrhea, toothy decay, skin infections and stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori.

Food Sources

Foods that contain substantial amounts good bacteria are yogurt, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, fermented and unfermented milk, and soy beverages. Among these sources, yogurt is said to be the richest source.

What to Look for When Buying Supplements

When you go to supermarkets and buy foods enriched with good bacteria such as probiotics, you need to take into account the type of bacteria contained in them, their genus and species. Additionally, know the potency or the population of bacteria in every food preparation.

Side Effects

During your first few days of probiotic supplementation, expect to feel some of its side effects. You may feel stomach bloating and cramping, acne, and skin rashes. However, these side effects of probiotics would generally diminish after a day or two. If they persist for several days, you should seek for medical advice.

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