The benefits of probiotics

Did you know that not all bacteria are bad ? Indeed, this is the case with probiotics . These beneficial bacteria contribute to our health and are now successfully used to treat several diseases!

WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?

In our society placing more and more emphasis on maintaining good health, many people are particularly interested in so-called more natural ways of preventing or treating illnesses . In this context, you have probably already heard of probiotics, but have you ever wondered what they could do for you?

Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria or yeast) that contribute to health when taken in sufficient quantities. They are naturally present in the intestines and help maintain the balance of intestinal flora .

The intestinal flora contains more than 100,000 billion bacteria (representing more than 1000 different species), including probiotics. These bacteria are essential for health because they:

  • produce vitamins,
  • contribute to digestion,
  • secrete antimicrobial substances,
  • stimulate the immune system,
  • and protect against certain diseases.

HOW DO PROBIOTICS WORK?

Probiotics prevent the multiplication of bad microbes in the digestive system. Such proliferation can cause illness and lead to diarrhea. We sometimes speak of an “intestinal flora imbalance”.

Indeed, in a normal situation, that is to say when we are healthy, the intestinal flora is in balance. But here are some examples of elements that can promote an imbalance:

  • taking antibiotics;
  • diet high in fat and low in fiber;
  • certain diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease);
  • immune system deficiency;

When the intestinal flora is out of balance, there is a decrease in the quantity of probiotics in the intestines.

PRODUCTS AVAILABLE

Probiotics come in many forms on the market and are found in many foods and supplements. For example, they are found in:

  • yogurts (or drinking yogurts);
  • cheeses;
  • fermented milk;
  • juices;
  • capsules to take orally;
  • drinkable drops;
  • vaginal capsules.

Since heat could destroy these living microorganisms, it is often desirable that products containing them be refrigerated.

It is important to know that most foods available at the grocery store contain much lower amounts of probiotics than what is found in supplements. For therapeutic effectiveness, it is therefore appropriate to turn more towards supplementation.

WHICH PROBIOTIC TO CHOOSE?

Probiotics are not all the same, and each has its own particularities and effectiveness. When you are looking for a probiotic to prevent or resolve a medical condition, or simply to maintain good health, we advise you to consult your pharmacist . He can help you make an informed choice by taking into account the following elements:

  • the health problem you are aiming to control;
  • the quality of the products available;
  • the type of probiotics contained in the different formulations;
  • the means taken by manufacturers to make probiotics live in the digestive system;
  • obtaining an approval number from Health Canada, called the “NPN”;
  • the results of scientific studies carried out on the product, if applicable;
  • your budget;

HEALTH BENEFITS

Here are some examples where the use of probiotics in scientific studies has demonstrated beneficial effects:

  • traveler’s diarrhea;
  • diarrhea caused by antibiotics;
  • Clostridium difficileinfection ;
  • ulcerative colitis;
  • pouchitis;
  • colic in babies.

Unfortunately, not all commercially available products have been proven to be effective, and some probiotics do not contain enough live microorganisms to provide any real benefit.

ARE PROBIOTICS SAFE?

To be considered a probiotic, it is necessary that the microorganism does not pose a danger to the person consuming it. This implies that bad bacteria and yeast cannot be called probiotics .

On the other hand, people whose immune systems are weakened (due to illness or taking certain medications) may still be susceptible to developing an infection when taking probiotics. This is why it is not recommended for these people to take it .

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also ask their healthcare professional if they can use probiotics.

In recent years, the popularity of probiotics has continued to grow. Research into these allies of our health continues to progress and our current knowledge suggests that they have not finished pleasantly surprising us.

If, like thousands of Canadians, you care about your well-being, put probiotics at the top of your list of excellent things to consume in larger quantities!

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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