In the pre-modern days before the synthetic medicines became easily accessible, many gut-related complications were treated through yoghurt. At that time it was not known that yoghurt contains a considerable number of probiotics that can treat these digestive conditions.
What are Probiotics?
Bacteria are not always as bad as they are presumed to be. Interestingly, our body is dependent upon some groups that can aid in the working of the bodily systems. Probiotic happens to be one such bacterial organisms.
Probiotics are live micro-organisms, when present in the body in a reasonable amount, help administer various health benefits. They are usually classified as bacteria however some yeast also may fall under the category of probiotics. They can be obtained through supplements or food that is prepared through bacterial fermentation.
Probiotics and Digestive Health
Various groups of micro-organisms present in our body are referred to as the “gut flora.” These micro-organisms are in the form of yeast, bacteria and virus considerably found in the large intestine and colon region. The gut flora is responsible for conducting activities that can aid the digestive process. These activities include the production of Vitamin K and Vitamin B, turning fibers into absorbable short chains of fat for performing certain metabolic functions, preventing harmful substances from getting into blood etc.
On the other hand, with regards to digestion, probiotics can help in fighting complications like
- Constipation: Having trouble passing out feces
- Crohn’s disease: Inflammatory disease particularly affecting the small intestine and colon region resulting in abdominal cramps and diarrhoea
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Inflammation in the digestive tract
- Lactose Intolerance: People with this condition are unable to digest food substances like milk, cheese which contain lactose
- Ulcerative Colitis: Inflammation of the walls that line up the large intestine, producing ulcers (tiny sores) in the region.
How do Probiotics aid Digestion?
A lot of research has been put into understanding the relationship between probiotics and digestion. Medical Scientists have a major consensus that they do help solve major gut related complications but are unable to devise the reason for it. Which makes it particularly difficult as to how much of probiotics is the necessary amount needed by the body.
However, from the studies that have been concluded probiotics are known to be safe and are likely to aid digestive process in the following way:
- Lower the pH levels in the body: By lowering the pH of the colon region, probiotics are able to help in the smooth excretion of feces.
- Help in the prevention of diarrhoea: A major side effect of using antibiotics is in its ability to cause diarrhoea. Probiotics may curb the condition by triggering the production of bacteria that might have been killed because of antibiotics
- Aid in the absorption of proteins: Probiotics propel some metabolic reactions in the body that can help absorb vital nutrients like proteins as well as calcium and different vitamins.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common bacterial group which are probiotics. Different categories may treat different illnesses, therefore, it becomes pertinent to take supplements that have the right bacteria. These bacteria further have different strains which help fight illnesses. The strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are
According to a journal published in the US National Library of Medicine, B Lactis and L Casei help curb the symptoms of constipation. Moreover, it is also believed that strains which do not belong to the group of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are likely to be harmful therefore one needs to be very cautious when deciding upon the supplements.
How to take Probiotics for improving Digestive Health?
Probiotics are usually taken orally. They create an acidic environment in the stomach and intestinal region therefore how much dosage to take primarily depends upon how much acidity can the person tolerate. However, research studies have established that good quality of probiotics are easily absorbed in the bloodstream without causing any acidity related problems. Moreover, as probiotics are generally categorized to be safe, the condition is unlikely to remain forever.
For maximizing the benefits obtained from probiotics, it is necessary to start taking a reasonable dosage every day. This can be done either through ingestion of certain food items or supplements. At the same time, before using any supplement, a person should make sure that it is prescribed by a professional.
As per the nutritionists’ recommendations, the top probiotic food items include:
- Yoghurt: Bacteria in the yoghurt have B-D-galactosidase, an enzyme that helps digest dairy-related items. A low amount of this enzyme in the body is likely to result in malabsorption of the items which can further lead to diarrhoea, fatigue and stomach pain. Fresh yoghurt containing a live and active culture of microorganisms should be preferred over pasteurized yoghurt.
- Sauerkraut and Kimchi: These fermented vegetables are known to contain a considerable number of probiotics and have a long list of health-related benefits. Their role in fighting inflammatory bowel disease and certain food allergies make them a prominent source of probiotics. Moreover, Sauerkraut contains vitamins and folic acid that can increase immunity and can protect against gastrointestinal infections
- Miso Soup: This Japanese food has gained prominence for its ability to fight gut-related complications and smoothing out the digestion process. People suffering from constipation are often recommended Miso soup as it destroys pathogenic gut bacteria.
- Kefir: This thick and creamy fermented milk, although maybe a high-calorie drink, provides the body with a significant number of probiotics. Kefir contains Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) that helps in the prevention of diarrhoea at the same time breaking down lactose into absorbable sugar glucose.
In addition to the food substances, there are some additional tips which a person looking to increase digestive health through probiotics should follow.
It is important to take note of the time when probiotics are ingested into the body. Benefits will be more expressive when taken before eating as in some cases post meal can intensify acidity resulting in bloating and nausea.
Although probiotics can be obtained through supplements, nutritionists would always prefer natural sources over the synthetic supplements. Natural dietary elements have more digestion related benefits, at the same time have a minimum number of side effects.
Finally, consulting a medical professional before buying any supplements or food items is recommended. Some supplements are labelled red by the US Federal authority, and some may have a low expiry date. Thereby, to ensure the right quality of the substance, seeking the help of a professional should be a priority.
Natural sources of probiotics may have minimal side effects and are safe for most people. However, some common side effects and risk that may develop will include bloating and severe abdominal pain.
Medical doctors also emphasize the fact that probiotics are to be not taken by people who have a chronic illness as their weak immune system may not respond. Furthermore, probiotics are in no way a substitute for prescribed medications.
A healthy digestive system is important for every person. It is vital for sustaining a good mental and physical health as well as boosting immunity and providing healthier skin.
A lot of studies have been conducted to understand the linkage between probiotics and digestion and it has been established that there remains a positive relationship. Probiotics promote healthy bowel movements and fight off various gastrointestinal inflammations. Thereby, one should include them as a necessary part of their diet.