What is Probiotic?
The word “probiotic” originates from the Greek words, “pro” and “biotic” which mean promotion and life respectively. Probiotic entails live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to our health when ingested. The World Health Organization has defined probiotic as“Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.
Often prescribed for treating chronic digestive problems, many other health benefits of probiotics are coming to the fore, leading to its inclusion in foods ranging from yogurt to chocolate. Here are some of the benefits of Probiotic Food.
· Digestive Health
Around 1,000 different types of bacteria live in our digestive tracts. These bacteria help in breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. But antibiotics which are designed to kill illness-causing bacteria also tend to kill the bacteria that are beneficial to us. To repopulate the digestive tract with healthy bacteria, doctors commonly prescribe probiotics. But that’s not all; probiotics have been found to help people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, a hard to treat condition that has a range of symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea and constipation.
One of the main functions of good bacteria is to stimulate the immune system’s response. By consuming probiotic rich food, one can easily maintain the good intestinal bacteria, which in turn will help in maintaining a health immune system.
· Urinary Health
People suffering from urinary tract infection are mostly prescribed antibiotics to treat the condition, which makes consumption of probiotics rich food a necessity to maintain a healthy population of beneficial bacteria. But with more research, the evidence is emerging that regular probiotic can help prevent infections in the urinary tract by maintaining a population of good bacteria and stopping bad bacteria from invading the track.
· Women’s Health
Vagina, just like the digestive tract, relies on a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria. A change in this balance can result in two very uncomfortable although very common infections – bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Taking probiotic rich food can help maintain this delicate balance and help avoid the infections. Probiotics are also beneficial for pregnant women as bacterial vaginosis is a contributing factor to pre-term labor.
· Weight Loss
Some probiotics are known to prevent intestine from absorbing dietary fats, this helps the body to burn calories and also makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Also, a study conducted on dieting women showed that those who took Lactobacillus rhamnose for three months lost more weight compared with other women.
· Helps improve mental health conditions
A series of studies have found that probiotics can help improve certain mental health conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, depression and anxiety. Another study conducted on 70 individuals for 6 weeks found signs of improvement regarding stress, anxiety, depression in those who took 100 grams of probiotic yogurt or a capsule on daily basis.
· Good for the heart
Probiotics help cut the amount of bad cholesterol in your body, thus helping you keep your heart healthy. Studies have shown that consumption of probiotic yogurt over a period of 2-8 weeks reduced the level of bad cholesterol by 5 percent, while another study showed a correlation between intake of probiotic supplement and drop in blood pressure.
There are many sources of probiotics which can help you. For example, milk drinks, yogurts and other dairy products are sources that are rich in live probiotics. Fermented food items like pickled vegetables and soy products are also rich in lactic bacteria. You can also take tablets or capsules supplements containing probioticin an effort to keep your body healthy.