Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that are considered beneficial in preventing various health conditions. These probiotics are usually consumed as yoghurts and supplements and are also named as “good bacteria.” Probiotics restore the average quantity of bacteria in the GIT when it has become disrupted due to gastrointestinal diseases or long-term use of antibiotics. However, this claim is supported by little solid evidence.
Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which, when taken in adequate amounts, provide a health benefit on the host.”
These probiotics should be alive when they are administered. The most well known probiotic bacteria are Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, which have been researched thoroughly. Most of their strains have been studied in detail for their beneficial effects in various conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
The term probiotic is acquired from the Latin grammar “pro,” which means “for” while “biotic” is a Greek word meaning “life”. The concept that the harmful microbes can be replaced with beneficial ones and gut flora can be modified were first introduced in 1907. According to this concept, proteolytic and putrefactive bacteria generate toxins in the large intestine that leads to “intestinal auto-intoxication,” which contributes to the early ageing.
Probiotics have been studied thoroughly for the treatment and prevention of a variety of gastrointestinal abnormalities, including ulcerative colitis, pouchitis (inflammation of a surgically created rectum) and Crohn disease. Usually, these studies indicate that people who are affected or who are at risk of these conditions, probiotics have little or no clear benefit. The most-convincing proof about their effectiveness comes from research of diarrheal diseases, especially in children. For example, S. boulardii has been used for reduction in the frequency of severe diarrheal episodes in children. Likewise, certain strains of L. rhamnosus GG may show modest effects in the reduction of infectious diarrheal frequency. S. boulardii and L. rhamnosus GG may be useful in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in adults and children.
Researchers are trying to figure out the exact working mechanism of probiotics. Some of the ways probiotics may keep you healthy:
If you lose “good” bacteria in your body, especially when you take antibiotics, probiotics can help in replacing them.
Although probiotics are generally considered to be safe, they may lead to severe fungemia (fungal infection of the blood) and bacteremia (bacterial infection of the blood) in immunosuppressed patients. Probiotic-associated bacteremia has been diagnosed in patients with severe ulcerative colitis. Probiotics have proven effective In preterm infants as it reduces the likelihood of necrotizing enterocolitis; however, cases of probiotic-associated sepsis have been reported. In addition, although probiotics (microorganisms) are consolidated into commercial products that are sold and marketed as health-promoting products, direct evidence is lacking for the efficacy of many such over-the-counter probiotics to promote health in otherwise fit individuals.
They can help balance your “bad” and “good” bacteria to keep the body working the way it should.
1How do probiotics work?
Visit any grocery store, and you will indeed find more than a few “probiotic” products claiming so-called beneficial bacteria that will treat everything from obesity to constipation to depression. In addition to foods that are traditionally prepared using live bacterial cultures (such as yoghurt and fermented dairy products), consumers can now also purchase probiotic pills and capsules, sausages, fruit juices, cereals, candy, cookies, pet food and granola bars. Indeed, the demand for probiotics has increased so much in recent years that product manufacturers have even started to add the microorganisms to mattresses and cosmetic.
These bacteria seem to benefit only those individuals suffering from a few specific gastrointestinal disorders. There is no evidence to suggest that individuals with normal gastrointestinal tracts can be benefited from probiotics. These Bacteria are not recommended if you’re not in any distress. The claims that are made are extremely inflated.”
Bacteria are known for causing diseases, so the idea of ingesting a few billion per day for your health might seem — figuratively and literally — hard to accept. But a variety of scientific evidence suggests that you can prevent and treat some illnesses with supplements and foods containing certain forms of live bacteria. Northern Europeans eat up a lot of these beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, following their tradition of eating foods fermented with good bacteria, such as yoghurt. Beverages laced with probiotics are also big production in Japan.
It is found that the product formula, type of microbe strain, dose, quality and the health condition of the product are all important for their effectiveness.
The symptom or condition you’re trying to treat depends upon how the probiotic works and when you’ll get results. If you’re taking a probiotic for immune health or general gut, you’ll need to take it for a while to see results. On the other hand, if you’re consuming a probiotic to treat diarrhoea, you may see faster results.
For example, research has shown that, when probiotics are used in combination with rehydration therapy, they can reduce the frequency and duration of infectious diarrhoea in as little as two days.
Another study revealed that individuals who consumed a high-dose probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus fermentium, Lactobacillus paracasei, and Lactobacillus casei for 12 weeks face significantly less flu-like symptoms and upper respiratory tract infections compared to a placebo group.
It was also shown that the probiotic drinks boosted the immune system of the individuals by increasing antibody levels, including sIgA in the GIT after 12 weeks.
Yet another study found that individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who take Saccharomyces boulardii for four weeks experienced improvements in IBS-related symptoms.
Depending on what you’re using probiotics for, you may see improvement in symptoms anywhere between a few days to a few months.