You’ve all heard about how important for digestion are the enzymes and the probiotics. From helping with the absorption of lactose in the intestines to combating the acute forms of diarrhea, or of their important roles in the regulation of metabolism, absorption of essential nutrients for the body, or the removal of noxious compounds, probiotics and enzymes are essential to the human body. They are naturally found in different types of foods, and the health benefits of taking probiotics are huge.
What are the probiotics?
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), the probiotics are living microorganisms which when administered in recommended doses, confer a health benefit to the host organism.
These micro-organisms consist of strains belonging to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and some selected strains of the genera Bacillus, Enterococcus, and Saccharomyces.
Probiotics are mainly bacteria which resides inside us. These microorganisms are already living inside any of us since our first days of life and we can say that our relationship with them is symbiotic. They need us to live, we need them to be healthy.
They are involved in digestion and nutrients assimilation.
Effects of probiotics are usually caused by their respective strain, so it is very important that every time we buy a product containing probiotics, to be very careful about the type of the strain.
Some species of bacteria, such as E-coli, can become harmful to human bodies if their number is too big.
The role of probiotics
As said before, on the skin and inside our bodies, lives a community of microorganisms that exceeds in number the amount of human body cells, in a ratio of 10 to 1.
The lower gastrointestinal tract is populated by a large majority of these microorganisms that form a true ecosystem that is called the human intestinal flora.
A large share of the humans’ intestinal flora is represented by bacteria, yeasts, and protozoa. Although it is composed of non-human cells, intestinal flora can be considered a basic human organ. Like the heart or liver, intestinal flora plays a vital role in maintaining the body health. When there is an imbalance in the intestinal flora, that imbalance affects and is felt throughout the body.
Health benefits of taking probiotics
The absorption of lactose.
A study published in the medicine journal entitled Oxford Journals depicts the effects of probiotics for the proper functioning of the digestive system. Most people, as they grow older, develop an increased lactose presence in the intestinal mucosa. Probiotics come in play, helping the humans to absorb the lactose, for a proper functioning of the body.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the two types of bacteria most commonly used probiotic-based products. Thus, according to the study, it has been found that the administration of yogurt (which contains Bifidobacterium) is more effective in the absorption of lactose in the intestinal mucosa.
There are at least 12 studies that reported an improvement in symptoms of acute diarrhea, following the administration of probiotics. Most of these studies were performed on babies and children, concluding the fact that probiotics have a beneficial role in the treatment of intestinal disorders. Studies have shown that people with common digestive disorders have a lower intestinal flora.
The health of a forest depends on the diversity of its ecosystem, and the same is true for our digestive system. The more diverse flora we have in our intestines, the lower are the risks of digestive diseases.
Prevention and treatment of allergic reactions.
Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in the prevention or treatment of allergic reactions, according to the Oxford Journals. Studies concluded that probiotics that are the most useful in the treatment of allergies are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility talks about the fact that probiotics prove to be useful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics are also involved in the nutrients absorption. When there are enough healthy probiotics in the intestinal flora, they work for health by improving the assimilation of all the essential nutrients we take by eating.
Foods that contain probiotics
Perhaps the most popular food associated with the supplementation of probiotics in the body, the yogurt brings a range of benefits:
improves digestion and immunity
prevents colon cancer
helps to lower the blood pressure
This traditional preparation, especially in Easter Europe, is a source of probiotics if prepared by fermentation and with natural ingredients.
In addition to this benefit to health, pickled cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamins, such as Vitamin B, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C.
One of the few beneficial desserts, the dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and has an energizing effect. In addition, dark chocolate is also remarkable because it provides probiotics to the body.
As long as it has a larger concentration of cocoa and containing as little sugar as possible, the dark chocolate is a healthy ally.
Considered a true elixir of health, this tea has been used for centuries to increase energy levels, improve mood, and loss of weight.
Also, Kombucha bacteria are probiotic cultures and operate in the same way as active bacteria in yogurt cultures.
A substitute for animal products and not only, soy milk brings numerous benefits to the human body because of the content of probiotics and live cultures of bacteria that help maintain a healthy digestive system.
One cup of soy milk provides a lot of the important nutrients used to strengthen the body before the cold season:
- contains 25-31% calcium
- 11-31% vitamin D
- 89-125 calories
- 5 grams of fat (0.4 grams fat saturated)
- 6-10 grams of protein
- rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids
- rich in antioxidants
- rich in Vitamin E
- helps fighting infection
Although your daily diet can be an important source of probiotics, in some cases it is recommended a much more effective treatment with probiotics to restore normal intestinal flora and body immunization, and for that, you might need to opt for a probiotic dietary supplement.