Probiotics are live microorganisms similar to the most beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are often referred to as “friendly bacteria” because they have a positive impact on the human body. Probiotics are similar to the bacteria Lactobaccillus or Bifidobacterium.
The definition of what probiotics are has been widely debated. The most widely recognized definition was developed by the World Health Organization: probiotics are “live microorganisms” that, when administered in adequate amounts, may provide health benefits to the host.
Probiotics are not the same as prebiotics, which are defined as nondigestible food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial microorganisms that are already found in the human colon. When pre and probiotics are combined, they form a symbiotic relationship.
Studies show that probiotics improve the bio-availability of many important nutrients in the body such as zinc, iron, and phosphorus, all of the B vitamins, calcium, copper, and magnesium. Probiotic strain B has a powerful ability to normalize bowel function in patients who suffer from from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Health benefits of probiotics:
– Enchances the immune system response
– Prevents eczema in youth
– Improved digestion
– Reduces negative effects of taking several types of antibiotics
– Cures viral respiratory tract infection
– Reduces lactose intolerance
– Relief for halitosis (bad breath)
– Increases calcium absorption
– Promotes anti-cancer activities
– Helps synthesize Vitamin B
– Reduces incedences of candidiasis and yeast infections
– Helps prevent skin infections
Criteria for good probiotics:
If you’re in the market for a good probiotic, take note of the following:
– It should require refrigeration.
– Must contain a variety (around seven) different strains of good bacteria.
– High potency; an adequate number of bacteria is around 5 million units.
– The bacterial strains must have the correct “ratio” to each other.
– Antibiotic resistant.
– Enteric coated (so stomach acid won’t destroy the bacteria).
– Contains FOS, a simple form of sugar that helps bacteria adhere to the gastrointestinal (GI) wall and grow rapidly.
Other considerations to take note of:
Safety: probiotics must be non-pathogenic and non-toxic. All probiotics must be registered for use in an individual animal species.
Sufficient numbers: the concentration of probiotics must reach a specific amount that is enough to provide a beneficial effect on the human body.
Viability: the probiotic must be able to remain viable during storage. It should also be able to pass safely through the stomach so that it can colonize the gut.
Quality assurance: probiotics should follow strict manufacturing to uphold high quality standard of food processing.
How to increase probiotics in your diet
Eat lots of yogurt! Include yogurt in your breakfast or lunch, have it as your midday snack or have yogurt in place of other evening desserts.
Another simple way to get more probiotics is to use acidophilus milk for cereal or coffee, or drink it on its own.