Probiotics – Friendly Bacteria That Keep You Healthy

Probiotics – Friendly Bacteria That Keep You Healthy

Most of us think of bacteria as the bad guys causing disease and illness.

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive tract. Literally translated, the word probiotic means “FOR LIFE”. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” (that’s you).

Maintaining a healthy balance of probiotics is critical to your good health, and not only your digestive health. The two most prevalent probiotics are Lactobacillus, which make up the majority of the probiotics living in your small intestine, and Bifidobacteria, the most prevalent probiotic living in your large intestine.

  • Probiotics help maintain and restore the delicate balance of both “good” and “bad” bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system. Without that balance, harmful bacteria can multiply and take over, causing gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or abdominal pain.
  • Most of us have taken antibiotics and suffered side effects of diarrhea or intestinal pain and distress. This is because some antibiotics destroy both good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract, thereby upsetting the balance. Stress can affect some people in this same way, by reducing good bacteria, thereby allowing harmful bacteria to multiply and take over.
  • Probiotic bacteria can also help relieve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and alcoholic liver disease. The probiotic bacteria may help relieve constipation by improving intestinal mobility.
  • Although testing on humans is limited, preliminary evidence shows that probiotics can help boost the immune system and help to promote healthy immunity.
  • Various forms of lactic acid bacteria added when manufacturing yogurt, acidophilus milk and fermented milk products can help lessen the effects of lactose intolerance. This inability to digest the sugars that occur naturally in milk affects nearly 70 percent of the world’s population.
  • There is also evidence that probiotics may help to prevent certain kinds of allergies because they have a beneficial effect on mucous membranes.
  • Probiotic consumption may reduce the risk for colon cancer and help maintain healthy colon cells and also help to prevent liver and breast cancers.
  • Promote detoxification of intestinal toxins.
  • Makes use of nutrients, such as fiber, that would otherwise pass through the body undigested.

Where do I find probiotics?
Dairy products are the primary food source of these health-promoting bacteria. Milk that has probiotic bacteria added to it – such as acidophilus milk or cultured milk and yogurt are the primary sources of probiotics in our food supply.
Some researchers believe that the various nutrients in dairy products somehow “turn on” the beneficial genes in probiotic bacteria. That means dairy foods carry these bacteria straight to your gut, where they can go to work! When you buy yogurt, look for the “live active culture” seal, which indicates that probiotics have been added.
Some forms of probiotics are available in supplement form, which may seem convenient until you stop and ask yourself what you’re missing. Foods contain a unique package of naturally occurring nutrients that cannot be duplicated in a single pill. What’s more, when you eat, your stomach produces acids that help stabilize the probiotics you’ve consumed.

Ways to increase probiotics in your diet
Have yogurt as part of your breakfast or lunch.
Make yogurt your midday snack or evening dessert
Make a smoothie with yogurt or acidophilus milk.

Your Bacterial Balance Is the Key to Your Good Health
You have both good and bad bacteria in your digestive system. A healthy bacterial balance is 80% good to 20% bad bacteria. If bad bacteria increase past 20%, your health can suffer.

Consequences of Probiotic Imbalance
The consequences of too little probiotics can include diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, yeast overgrowth, vaginal yeast infections, weakened immune system, lactose intolerance, poor digestion, complex carbohydrate intolerance and even skin disruptions. Because 70% of our immune system lies in the digestive tract, the lack of adequate amounts of probiotics can result in many problems related to low immunity.

Deficiencies in probiotic bacteria are often the result of a lifetime of less-than-healthy health practices. The long-term effects of overusing antibiotics have already been mentioned. Aspirin, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be overused and cause deficiencies in probiotic bacteria. Steroidal medications like cortisone and prednisone can deplete beneficial bacteria, as can oral contraceptives, large amounts of sugar or alcohol, and stress.

How Do You Maintain The Right Probiotic Balance?
Eat foods rich in probiotics and high in fiber, and take a daily probiotic supplement. A diet rich in fermented dairy and vegetable foods, such as yogurt will provide good bacteria. Also, eating foods high in fiber is beneficial because good bacteria love to “eat” soluble fiber which causes them to multiply. Lastly, take a BALANCED probiotic supplement. The right balance is a probiotic supplement high in both Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.

Sanjana M Shenoy is a A dietitian from Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Having worked as a Dietitian for the Manipal Group of Hospitals namely KMC hospital Mangalore, India.She is also a consultant for corporate's like Infosys and others, conducting talks and presentations for various associations and local television shows.She consults at her Diet and Nutrition clinic "Nutrihealth" in Mangalore.Also is a visiting consultant to various hospitals in and around Mangalore and also runs an active online consultation.

19 Replies to “Probiotics – Friendly Bacteria That Keep You Healthy”

  1. I totally agree you need to take a good daily probiotic supplement. Now that I’ve been using probiotics, I feel better all around, and I don’t get sick when I travel on business. There is a great read on probiotics (The Probiotic Miracle) by Jon Barron, a worldwide nutraceutical researcher who writes health newsletters. Like your article, he further elaborates on how probiotics aid proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and immunity by placing beneficial bacteria into the digestive system. I’ve shared this with many friends who want to learn more about probiotics. Check it out.

  2. Hi!
    My name is Filip, I am 21 years old,I’am from Croatia-small country in Cenral Europe,across Italy.. I had a acute gastritis in July 2007.. In period from February to April 2008 I went to Mcdonald’s every day,and I ate 2-3 haburger’s.. I play tennis,and because I have been injured, my MD prescribed me Ibuprofen 600mg,3 times a day,and I took it for 10 days in a row.. After that,my stomach started to hurth me,and my lower abdomen was like a baloon.. I don’t have Helicobacter.. I stll have problem with nausea in lower abdomen,and I think this junk food and Ibuprofen damaged my microflora,and killed good bacteria’s,and my stomach is still very damaged because this factors.. I play tennis,don’t drink cofee.. Can You give me Your opinion..

  3. From The symptoms you have told me..It looks as though you are eating a lot of junk food. Yes you have definitely killed all the good bacteria in your stomach with both junk food and antibiotics. Have 6 small meals during the day. Eat atleast 2 fruits per day or more. Eat before you feel hungry so as to prevent bloating. You need to have yogurt daily about 200 grams daily to regrow the microflora you have lost. Drink atleast 2-2.5 liters per day so that you flush off any bad bacteria….You can also send me down a list of your daily food habits from which I can analyze what is wrong in your diet….You can send the list to my email ID…

  4. Thanks for the answer..By the way I play tennis almost every day,and in march this year I had this little injuri,and it hurt really bad..So,as I told you, my MD gave mi this NSAID Ibuprofen(I think in USA it’s called Advil or something like that).. I didn’t take antibiotics as You told me in Your post..And I eat fruits like bananas,apple,orange every day,and I don’t drink alcohol,or cofee..Ii was only this 2 months(from february-april)2008 that I ate in McDonald’s,and I use those NSAID in high doses(3x600mg, for a 10 days in row).. And I think my MD shouldn’t gave my this NSAID Ibuprofen,because I had this acute gastritis in July 2007,so my stomach was very sensitive,If You understand me what I want to say..Also,I think NSAID also kills a good bacteria,and your microflora cant recover alone,so I must gave my intestine and stomach a large doses of probiotics(now I drink Probiotic Premium the best in Europe) ..And I think my microflora will recover for long period..What is your opinion??And from April this year I don’t eat junk food at all..

  5. And I wanted to ask, You if it is true that probiotics regenerate stomach mucose or lining(I don’t know if i write this correct:)..
    Hope my English is fine..
    Filip from Croatia
    P.S.-do You know where Croatia is

  6. Hi!
    Can You answer to mi questions from last two posts?? What is Your opinion and if it is true that probiotics regenerate stomach mucose and lining??
    Thank You

  7. No they do not exactly generate the mucosa… generally probiotics are obtained from yogurt and is a good source of protein. Adequate protein intake helps in the development of skin layers or any other layer in the body. So protein intake depending on your height and weight is very important.

  8. I suggest you take your probiotics from naturally fermented milk products such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, miso and various soy products in which the “live cultures ” have been added. Nutrinexus may be a good product but if you consume these above mentioned products, your diet will be rich in protein, calcium, folic acid and rich in various other vitamins and minerals. It is your choice for making healthier choices.

  9. would like to know name of probiotic supplement available in india which contains balance of bifido and lactobacilli

  10. Hi sanjana,
    Thank you but can you recommend some supplement which contains lacto and bifido, I have had a surgery, would like to talk to you if you email your tel number, Best wishes, vinod

  11. Can you advise me as to how to register with you for me to enable to ask health related questions etc. —- How should i will raise the questions & where to look for the answers

  12. What is the max. safe potency of pattasium one should consume daily to control the High B.P.along with regular high B.P. control medication & Brisk walking etc. —– Also what are the food stuffs rich in Pottasium and how much is the pottasium in each of it


    Here is a small tit-bit on Probiotics picked out from a recent journal..

    Beneficial bacteria keep harmful micro-organisms in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function. While the yogurt you find in the supermarket may contain probiotics, most brands don’t offer nearly enough for good health. But taking a high quality probiotic supplement every day can help keep your digestive and immune systems functioning at their best. When it comes to probiotics, more is better. Look for a supplement that provides at least 5 billion colony forming units (CFUs) and take it every day.

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