All You Need to Know About Probiotics – Pros & Cons


Probiotics which are none other than good liver bacteria or yeast, naturally live in our body which consists of both good and bad bacteria. Bad bacteria’s are in the body when we suffer from diseases and good bacteria’s essentially perform by removing the bad bacteria from the body thereby restoring the balance.

Probiotics usually help to restore the equilibrium of bacteria in our body. They are a part of the microbiome that is formed by microbes which consist of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. However, not all microbes are probiotics in nature.

To call a microbe probiotics, it needs to firstly survive in the human body after indigestion then to be isolated from the human body, and before its consumption, it needs to have a proven benefit for the consumer.

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How do Probiotics work?

The main function of probiotics is to restore the healthy balance of bacteria in the human body. Good bacteria’s usually help in boosting one’s immunity, control inflammation, help in the digestion of food, creation of vitamins, stops the growth of bad bacteria and thereby decreasing the chance of one getting sick, supporting the cells present in the lining of the gut to stop the bacteria’s which might have entered one’s body through the consumption of food and drinks, helps in breaking down and absorption of medicines.

They also help in reducing the risk of getting diarrhea after consuming antibiotics. They prevent and treat yeast infections, urinary tract infections, lactose intolerance, eczema, allergies and asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. They also help to reduce the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) by easing the symptoms of stomach pain, bloating, gas and constipation.

However, it is advised to consult one’s doctor before beginning the consumption of probiotics. Some studies have also found that they help with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. But this is still in need of further research.

They are instrumental in the cure of Helicobacter Pylori infection, one of the main causes behind ulcer and stomach cancer. It helps in the reduction of belly fat and thereby helps to reduce obesity in people whose obesity is caused by belly fat.

Which foods are the best source of Probiotics?

Even though supplements are usually found to contain probiotics, there are a lot of food sources that are very rich in probiotics. These are Yoghourt, specifically plain Greek yogurt, a tangy dairy drink called kefir, fermented vegetables which are present in pickles and sauerkraut.

What are the most common types of Probiotics found in stores?

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common types of probiotics found in medical stores. The other kinds include Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus. On their label, they are usually identified by their specific strain, genus, species, and subspecies and lastly, by the letter number of the strain code.

Some supplements commonly referred to as broad-spectrum probiotics or multiple probiotics combine different species of probiotics which are then put together in the same product. Research is going on the specific strains of probiotics to be used, the dosage and duration of treatment, the long-term effects of the same, and the interaction of age, gender, health conditions, and lifestyle with probiotics.

What are the risks of Probiotics?

Since the research in this field is comparatively new, some supplements in the market are not well researched, and thereby sometimes they can make an already ill person more ill.

As they fall under the category of supplements, they are not looked at closely by the Food Department so some products which say that they contain probiotics might not contain it. Since microbes are already present in one’s body, the consumption of probiotics is considered safe.

However, they can also trigger allergic reactions. The first few days of starting probiotic consumption may trigger mild stomach problems. In research, it has been shown that the gut and brain are connected in a system which is called the gut-brain axis and some microbes in the gut can affect one’s brain via the axis in both health and diseases.

How to take Probiotics supplements?

Probiotics come in several forms such as foods, drinks, capsules, powders, and liquids. They are usually advised to be combined with prebiotics which are complex carbohydrates that feed the microorganism in one’s body. They are the “food source” of good bacteria that enter the body.

They include insulin, pectin, and resistant starches. A supplement that contains both the prebiotics and probiotics is called Synbiotic which usually combines friendly bacteria with some food fit for consumption of the prebiotics.

Are Probiotics even effective?

There is ongoing research about the effectiveness of probiotics regarding the treatment of various conditions. Even though most of the research has yielded good results, some more research should be done to make them fit for public consumption.

Keep an eye out while buying products as most of them claim to only contain probiotics but in reality, they do not have any. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to not consume probiotics until they consult with their doctors.

They can also interfere with the medicine one is taking. They usually help in directions other than digestion, such as weight loss, enhanced immune function, healthier skin, and reduced risk of some diseases. Some researches show that supplementing with certain strains of probiotics may be preferable to taking psychotropic drugs to cope with mental health problems.

How should one store Probiotics?

Probiotics, at least some of them are very fragile in nature and need to be protected from heat, oxygen, light, or humidity as exposure to these factors will cause them to break down. They should be refrigerated or kept in areas that are free from the aforementioned elements.

Refrigeration will ensure that they will provide the full benefit even if they have been stored in a container for a long time. It is advised to look at the label for storage information. Like any other product, it should be used within the expiration date.

Can consumption of Probiotics hurt one?

For most people, the consumption of probiotics does not cause any harm if they are healthy. People are usually advised to give it a try to see how they might work with any other medications.

There is a lot of research going on regarding their usage and how they should be placed in the regular diet of a person who is suffering from problems of the gut.

There are however some risks that are associated with the consumption of probiotics. The risk further increases if one is battling with a medical condition that severely weakens one’s immune system or recently has had any surgery or suffers from any persistent medical condition.

The risks include the development of an infection, resistance to antibiotics, and the development of harmful by-products from the supplement itself.

Should one give Probiotics to their kids?

They are beneficial for both adults and kids. If a child is suffering from an illness that requires the consumption of antibiotics, probiotics can help to reduce the symptoms. They can also be used to reduce constipation, diarrhea, eczema, gas, and acid reflux in children.

The safest way to introduce probiotics to children is through food containing probiotics on their diet. Foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese are often a part of a balanced diet and help in the production of good bacteria in the body without any side effects.

There are several probiotic supplements specifically designed for kids and infants but in order to start probiotics consumption, one should consult their doctor, be it the introduction of supplements or the inclusion of probiotic-rich foods in the children’s diet.

Is it necessary to consume Probiotics after taking Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are usually consumed to eradicate the infection from the body that is removing the bad bacteria from the body.

However, while removing the bad bacteria, they also remove the good bacteria. As a result of this, some people suffer from diarrhea after taking antibiotics.

Other people suffer from various issues of the gut. Some research done in the field shows that probiotics can relieve one of the problems of the guts after one starts taking them. However, this hasn’t been proven through research and it can be assumed that this does not work for everyone.

Should one try Probiotics?

If one is inclined in the direction to try probiotics, they should first come in contact with their healthcare provider as a complete knowledge of the person’s medical history will help in the determination of whether one needs to consume probiotics or not.

Many doctors will suggest it, just to see how one’s body reacts to their general health. Each probiotic has its own effect and accordingly works in the body. They usually do not cause any harm.

Doctors will guide one to take the probiotics that will suit their particular body type and will determine how much to take and when to take them.

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