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What Are Probiotics And Why Do You Need Them?

What Are Probiotics And Why Do You Need Them?
By Barbara Ross

TP 202001 nutrition 01 2Probiotics are basically live micro-organisms that are known to provide several health benefits. They are commonly found in the form of bacteria and yeasts; ones that are good for the body and especially the digestive system. For the same reason, probiotics are also called 鈥済ood bacteria鈥 and they keep our gut healthy and properly functioning.


Now, how are probiotics related to our gut health and digestive system? Why do you need them?


Let鈥檚 find out.



TP 202001 nutrition 05How do probiotics work?


Probiotics help restore the balance of gut bacteria in your body. For example, if you鈥檝e consumed antibiotics for any kind of illness, you may end up losing a substantial amount of good bacteria and probiotics can help you restore them. Thus, they may help maintain optimum levels of good and bad bacteria.


When the digestive tract or the gut experiences unhealthy levels of bad bacteria, probiotics help secrete certain protective substances that may reactivate the immune system and induce it to prevent the pathogens from causing further harm.




TP 202001 nutrition 06Types of probiotics


There are several types of bacteria classified as probiotics. The most common ones include:

- Lactobacillus 鈥 found in most kinds of yogurt and fermented foods. It can help with diarrhoea and with lactose intolerance in some people.

- Bifidobacterium 鈥 Found in a few dairy products. It can help relax several symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.





Why do you need probiotics?


鈥 As mentioned earlier, probiotics help keep the gut bacteria balanced. They regulate the levels of good and bad bacteria and keep them optimized. On occurrences of health issues like illness or on intake of antibiotics or even as a result of a bad diet, there may be an imbalance of gut bacteria. This can cause several symptoms like allergies, obesity and digestive ailments.


Probiotics can help restore and regulate such an imbalance and provide relieve from the symptoms.


鈥 Certain studies have shown that several strains of probiotics can contribute to heart health. Lactic acid producing bacteria help break down bile; the digestive juice, which mostly consists of cholesterol. By breaking down the juice, these probiotics prevent it from being absorbed into the system through the gut, where it usually enters the body in the form of cholesterol.

Thus, probiotics keep the heart healthy by lowering LDL cholesterol, as well as blood pressure.


鈥 Probiotics help improve the performance of the immune system by preventing the excessive growth of bad gut bacteria. Certain types of probiotics have also been shown to aid the production of natural antibodies in the system, which boosts the capacity of certain immune cells. Studies have shown that some variations of the good bacteria Lactobacillus have helped reduce respiratory infections and urinary tract infections in women and children.


鈥 Some types of probiotics can help in losing weight through different ways. They prevent the gut from absorbing dietary fat, which is then removed from the body through excretion. Additionally, some of them increase the production of certain hormones like GLP-1, which contributes towards making you feel fuller for longer periods and thereby causing you to consume and store much less fat.


Some studies have also shown that consuming certain types of probiotics also resulted in the reduction of belly fat specifically.




TP 202001 nutrition 02Sources of probiotics

Probiotics are commonly available in a number of fermented foods. Other than that, you can also take probiotic supplements in cases where you need specific kinds of good bacteria to treat specific issues. In such cases, however, it would be best to take a doctor鈥檚 advice, because excess amounts of the wrong types of probiotics can have adverse effects.


Some very common natural sources of probiotics include:
- Yogurt
- Kefir
- Pickles
- Buttermilk
- Tempeh
- Sauerkraut





Regular consumption of probiotic foods and the right kinds of supplements can produce very powerful positive results. It can keep your digestive system functioning smoothly and also in turn allow nutrients to be absorbed properly into the system.

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