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What are Probiotics? How can they Help You?

Info Relinque - Sunday, September 02, 2012

What are Probiotics? How can they Help You?

Thanks to advertising, most of us know something about the good bacteria (probiotics) in our digestive system. Some of us even consume them in various forms such as yoghurt, drinks and capsules. But what is that they do?And how do they help us?

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast that are thought to improve your health. Probiotics are the friendly microorganisms that support the normal function of your gut for digestion, absorption, elimination, and protection. When you look at it, almost everything we consume is processed and distributed through your digestive system. If you are not properly digesting the foods you eat, then you won’t obtain the nutrients you need for growth and repair so that you can thrive.

Probiotics can be consumed through foods and drinks that have added active live cultures in them such as yogurt, soy, drinks or capsules. Two of the most important groups commonly delivered in dietary supplements are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.

Your Digestive System

The digestive system of a normal newborn is sterile. During birth, and shortly after, bacteria from the mother and the surrounding environment such as the air, bed linen, and hospital staff colonize and grow within the infant’s gut. Shortly after birth, bacteria are readily transferred through, kissing, caressing, and breast-feeding. Bacteria make up most of the flora in your digestive system, with most estimates showing around 300 – 1000 different species. The average adult human digestive system carries around 500 different species of bacteria with a total weight of 3-4 kg.

The types of bacteria and other flora in the digestive vary greatly from one person to the next, but they stay fairly constant within an individual over time. Factors that alter the types of flora within your body are diet, lifestyle, stress, drugs, antibiotics and age. 

We normally coexist in a healthy state with our gut flora, but when the balanced is altered, the relationship can become harmful to us, and disease may occur.

Why do we need Probiotics?

People can survive without gut flora, however these microorganisms perform many useful functions, such as:

- Assist with food digestion.
- Improve nutrient availability
- Preventing growth of harmful bacteria.
- Producing vitamins for your body such as vit K and biotin.
- Support your immune function

What are the Health Benefits of Probiotics Supplements?

Current research is showing the many benefits of maintaining a healthy gut flora. Taking probiotic supplements may be helpful for:

- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. ulcerated colitis)
- Recurrent vaginal infections
- Regulating immune response
- Eczema
- Acute childhood diarrhoea

If you are thinking about taking a probiotic supplement, it is best to use one that contains a number of different bacterial strains.

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