What Are Probiotics?

What Are Probiotics?

Bacteria are often known as life’s antagonists because of their noted harmful effects on the human body. But did you know that not all bacteria are bad?  Most of us view bacteria in a negative light because of their vast presence whenever we get sick. The real thing is that bad bacteria are taking over, causing an imbalance in our microbiome So, to completely recover from any infection or disease, we need to supply and maintain the number of good bacteria in our body—probiotics—at proper levels to prevent that disproportion.  Do they ring a bell? Well, this type of bacteria is what more than meets the eye!   

Your friendly bacteriaProbiotics and gut health

Probiotics are a combination of good bacteria and yeasts that naturally live in our bodies. They keep our bodies neutral by blocking and fighting off harmful bacteria that enter and multiply in our bloodstream, making us feel better. These friendly bacteria commonly reside in our gut (large intestines) but also linked to different locations that host good microbes such as the brain, lungs, and vagina.  Comprised of different species and strains, probiotics have a wide variety of microbes that give beneficial effects. Some of them belong in the groups of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which can be found in stores, and; Saccharomyces boulardii, which is present in yeasts.  However, these bacteria are not one-size-fits-all. Meaning, not all kinds of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium can do the same thing to prevent an illness. That’s why choosing the right probiotics to take is essential to keep our body in perfect balance.   

Benefits of probiotics

Aside from restoring balance, probiotics make every corner of our body organs stable and healthy—starting from the gut.  With a complex ecosystem of 300-500 species, our gut flora houses bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and helminths. These live microorganisms work hand-in-hand to manufacture vitamins and minerals from the food we consume to boost our immune system and strengthen the gut wall against harmful bacteria. In other words, if we maintain a healthy diet and include probiotics in our daily routine, we can be free from all kinds of diseases, especially those that affect our heart, brain, skin, digestive tract, and even body weight.  Yes, probiotics aren’t just sitting in our large intestines. They're also proven to keep our hearts healthy by lowering bad cholesterol and blood pressure; increase antibodies; improve our mood, memory, and mental health; protects our skin from radical damage; reduce symptoms of digestive disorders and cure antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and; help us lose weight and belly fats!  See how great of a deal we can get from a single microbe? All the more reason for us to be friends with this good bacteria!     

Health benefits of probiotics

Where can we get probiotics? 

Though we were all naturally born with probiotics, we can still increase its amount by taking probiotic supplements or drinking and eating probiotic-rich foods and beverages.  Probiotics have been dominating diet plans, making them the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals.  But, as mentioned, these good bacteria contain many different strains. So, it can be a little tricky when it comes to taking the right probiotic supplement for our body. That’s why consuming fermented drinks and foods remains the easiest and safest way to get them in our bodies.  Some probiotic-rich plant-based goods we can add to our diet are vegan yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, vegan miso soup, vegan cheddar cheese, pickles, and kombucha. Just always make sure they contain live and active cultures in the label since good bacteria can be depleted during the manufacturing process.    On the other hand, if you don’t eat or are unfamiliar with these foods, no worries! You can always use probiotic supplements but of course, with advice from your dietician.