Sniffles, sneezes, and stomach ache, bacteria are notorious for causing some of these sickness and diseases, but they aren’t all bad and icky. In fact, we really wouldn’t be alive without some of them! Probiotics makes up a large chunk of these healthy bacteria.
Our inner ecosystem is known as the gut microbiome and contains trillions of bacteria, including probiotics. These tiny friends help convert food into nutrition and energy. When there is a sudden change in your diet or the number of harmful bacteria increases due to uncooked or contaminated food, the body experiences gastrointestinal issues. Now anyone who has suffered from these issues knows that they aren’t just confined to the digestive system but to a host of other health conditions. So it’s time you pay more attention to your gut, and add probiotics to your diet.
Okay, But What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are certain types of good bacteria that provide health benefits when eaten. They are the same or similar to the friendly bacteria already present within the gut and affect everything from weight gain to mental well-being. Probiotics support a healthy digestive system by combating harmful bacteria, absorbing nutrients efficiently, promoting a strong gut lining, enhancing the body’s immune system, and improving mental health.
There are a host of groups of probiotic bacteria. Each group has many species and they further have many strains. Interestingly, different probiotics are related to different health conditions. Therefore, choosing the right type of probiotic is essential for optimal health.
How Will It Improve My Health?
Due to drastic diet and lifestyle changes that we have undergone in the last century, the use of probiotics has become critical to stay in good health. Here’s a list of the amazing benefits of probiotics.
- Having a poor diet, certain critical illnesses or taking antibiotics and other medications can disturb the natural balance of gut bacteria. This causes digestive issues, allergies, mental health problems, obesity, and more. When taken in sufficient amounts, probiotics can help restore the balance and solve these problems.
- Certain strains of probiotics help keep the heart healthy by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- The gut is also referred to as the ‘second brain’ and altering the bacteria in your gut can help in handling stress, improve mood, and even treating anxiety or depression.
- People suffering from these mental health issues may benefit from a class of probiotics known as psychobiotics.
- In healthy people, different psychobiotics improves mood and cognitive function, decreases stress and anxiety-like symptoms.
- Probiotics even work wonders for the skin texture and overall healthy glow on the face. They work on making your gut healthy, which is the root cause of skin allergies, acne, and dullness.
How Do Probiotics Work?
There is still no clear understanding for why or how exactly probiotics work, but there are many mechanisms that explain it to some extent. Probiotics, or good bacteria are a component of the gut microbiome, which is home to a variety of microbes. Like any organism in nature, their presence in a certain number helps to maintain balance. If their numbers decrease it throws things out of balance and there is instead a growth in bad bacteria.
Good or healthy bacteria are also known to work by regulating or supporting immune function and controlling the inflammatory response. Some types of probiotics also work by aiding production of digestive enzymes, as well as the breakdown and absorption of certain nutrients.
How Do I Include Probiotics In My Diet?
Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics. However, not all fermented foods contain probiotics, so you need to pick items that have live bacteria. Yogurt, kefir, vinegar-less pickles, kombucha, and some types of cheese are few of the top sources of probiotics.
However, the tastes and smells of fermented foods can be off-putting for some, additionally, it might be difficult to know the exact quantity and strains of probiotics the foods contain. Hence, the most popular way of getting probiotics is through supplements.
You can even enhance the effects of probiotics by taking them along with prebiotics, such as oatmeal, bananas, and berries, which feed the probiotics and increase their benefits.
Probiotics should be taken carefully by individuals who are on medication for any kind of disease or have a compromised immune system. A doctor’s consultation is recommended before deciding to take probiotics in such cases. For the rest of us, probiotics can make for a healthy addition to the diet.