Bacteria used to get a bad rap, especially since bacteria can cause infections and can be harmful to the human body.
But with the discovery of probiotics, researchers found that not all bacteria can be harmful to the body. In fact, research shows that probiotics are essential to our daily functions.
These days, it’s not uncommon to see health drinks and snacks that proudly say they contain probiotics. But what exactly does this mean, and what benefits do probiotics have?
Everything you need to know about probiotics
What exactly are probiotics?
In a nutshell, probiotics are microorganisms living in our digestive tract that help our bodily functions. Probiotics can help with digestion, prevent disease, and even produce vitamins that our bodies need.
Commonly called good bacteria, probiotics are actually composed of different microorganisms, which include bacteria and yeasts, among others.
Aside from regulating processes related to your digestion, probiotics can also help with other health problems, including the following:
- Problems with digestion
- Liver disease
- Coughs and colds
- Allergies such as eczema and hay fever
- Oral health problems such as tooth decay
While a lot of doctors recognize the health benefits of probiotics, it’s important to note that they shouldn’t be taken in place of traditional medicine. Based on what scientists know about probiotics, they’re definitely helpful to our bodies, but they’re not a miracle cure for illnesses.
Probiotics are also generally safe, but it’s always a good idea to consult your physician before trying out any new supplementsjust to be on the safe side.
How are they different from prebiotics?
Aside from probiotics, you might have also heard of prebiotics. While they might sound alike, prebiotics act as “fertilizer” for the probiotics in your gut.
The bacteria and other microorganisms in your digestive tract feed on prebiotics and help boost the population of probiotics in your body. Prebiotics help ensure that you have a thriving population of prebiotics in your gut, and they’re just as important as the microorganisms they feed.
Prebiotic substances are composed of carbohydrates, mostly fiber, that your body can’t easily digest. That’s why along with probiotic foods, it’s also a good idea to eat a lot of foods that are rich in prebiotics that help keep a thriving population of good bacteria in your digestive system.
What foods are good sources of probiotics?
Another thing that you need to know about probiotics is that it’s easy to find foods that are rich in them. Here are some of the foods that are rich in probiotics:
- Kefir or fermented milk
- Miso or fermented bean paste
You can also take probiotic supplements if you want, especially if you’re not a fan of fermented foods or if you’re lactose intolerant.
These foods, along with a healthy supply of prebiotics, should give your gut a much-needed boost and improve your overall health.