A healthy gut is of paramount importance for overall well-being. Our gut or large intestine contains a complex community of microorganisms termed ‘gut flora’. The gut flora, consisting of yeasts, viruses, and mainly bacteria, help perform several critical functions in the gut, such as aiding digestion and boosting our immunity system. In fact, the gastrointestinal tract constitutes about 70% of our immunity system. The friendly bacteria colonizing our gut can also be found in various foods or natural probiotic supplements.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, provide several benefits to the host. Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir, among others.
You can also buy probiotic supplements containing varying species and strains of beneficial bacteria that are known to confer different benefits to the consumer.
Difference between probiotics and prebiotics
You may also come across natural products in the market called prebiotics. Prebiotics refer to dietary fibers that friendly bacteria (probiotics) feed on.
Prebiotics prove helpful in supporting the gut flora that occupies the gut.
The need for natural probiotic supplements
Pollution, junk food and the use of antibiotics are some of the possible factors that can disturb the requisite balance of good bacteria in the gut.
Restoring this balance may require the consumption of probiotics.
Although foods containing probiotics can lend several health benefits, they often contain a low concentration of probiotics. Probiotic supplements, on the other hand, contain high doses of probiotics which can help have a positive impact on digestive health and overall well-being.
Different types of bacteria used in probiotics
There are several different groups of bacteria that tend to provide varying benefits when used in natural probiotic supplements.
When you head out to buy probiotic supplements, make sure that you read the product label carefully to assess the species and strains of bacteria used in the supplement as well as their amounts.
The most common bacteria groups used in natural probiotic supplements include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Probiotic supplements and digestive health
Probiotics have been studied most with regard to the benefits they impart to digestive health. Here’s a list of some of the benefits of probiotic bacteria for the digestive system:
• Cure antibiotic-associated diarrhea
When a person consumes antibiotics for treating an ailment over a long period of time, it disturbs the natural balance of good bacteria in the gut. This is known to cause antibiotic-associated diarrhea that persists for a considerable amount of time even after the antibiotics have stopped being consumed.
Probiotics can help replenish friendly bacteria, restoring the balance of gut flora, and treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
• Treat irritable bowel syndrome
The consumption of natural probiotic supplements alleviates symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea
• Beneficial against a range of other digestive diseases
Consuming probiotics can help you fight inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They can also be beneficial against Helicobacter pylori infections, known to cause ulcers and stomach cancer.
Probiotic foods and supplements can go a long way in maintaining your health and curing nagging digestive ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome and digestive distress.
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