What are Probiotics
Probiotics are microorganisms that are beneficial for other organisms. These living matter can provide numerous health benefits to the host they reside in. One can think of these as “good bacteria” or “friendly bacteria”. Contrary to the microorganisms naturally present in the human digestive system, probiotics are taken additionally through the intake of dietary supplements and food. Too many people can very easily confuse prebiotics with probiotics. The prebiotics are indigestible food substances that help promote or create conditions for the growth of the microorganisms in the human gut. However together, these two substances form a synbiotic.
Numerous food items contain probiotics, either present naturally or added during one of many stages of production. These include foods like yogurt, sour cream, fermented or coagulated milk, soy beverages and miso pastes etc. The intake of probiotics dates back to ancient times when fermented milk was used for digestive purposes.
The Benefits of probiotics
The reason why the popularity of Probiotics has increased so much during the last two decades is because of their numerous health benefits. One can definitely not deny the ever increasing pollution and infectious diseases in the world today, mostly caused by harmful bacteria. Hence, there has become an ever increasing need to strengthen the immune system of our bodies. This is exactly what the probiotics are good for. The intake of these can control gas and diarrhea. They can also mitigate the harmful side effects of antibiotics. In case of antibiotics, the probiotics play a role of balancing out the effects so that the medicine doesn’t take its toll on the human body. Researchers are now spending a lot of time researching whether the intake of probiotics can help reduce infectious bacteria, tooth decay and many skin diseases.
Good or Bad?
However, there is still a debate as to whether these substances really have an impact on the human body. Many researchers have found that there is more a psychological effect of the intake than a physiological effect. This is also known as the placebo effect, where an inert substance has a psychological effect such as in improvement in condition without any biological impact. Hence, people consuming probiotics may think themselves into becoming better and they actually do.
On the other hand, the side effects and drawbacks of these have not too thoroughly been researched, especially for the part where the probiotics are used for infants and children. Although, the side effects if any, are easily negated automatically through the body’s immune system. Theoretically speaking, the probiotics can have some physiological side effects but can easily be treated by the use of antibiotics. The important thing to remember is that the probiotics taken by mouth are actually regulated as food items and not drugs so there can be a tendency for people to overdo them and face the consequences. However, research does suggest that people with low immune systems can suffer from the intake of probiotics.
How the probiotics is to be taken depends on the food one is eating. Since probiotics are live organisms, they can die very easily through changes in or extreme environments. Many factors will determine whether the food is viable to contain probiotics or not. These factors include the processing, PH levels, storage, shelf life and the chemical makeup of the food item in question. Even if survived in the food, the probiotics can very easily be destroyed by the acidity of the stomach. Hence, for people with high acidity, the probiotics may fail to work or be slow to have their effect.
Very often, people are worried about giving probiotics to infants and little children. They have a fear these creatures may have a harmful effect on their child. The truth is that probiotics can be given to children of all ages and sizes. However, one must note that there are specific probiotics suitable for children. In the US, many companies have begun the manufacture of sweet chewable tablets that aid the intake of these. The specific probiotics for children have a milder effect and are more suited to the immune and biological makeup of an infant’s body. Although food containing them may be fed to children, it is much easier this way.
For Adults and Toddlers Alike
Just like the benefits for adults, the probiotics can work on infants the same way. If one intends to keep the existing health of their child, they may feed their children with probiotics to prevent them from catching flue or cold. Although one can get processed food from the stores, but they too often contain harmful processed ingredients that can have more negatives than positives. To counter this problem, one can make probiotics food at home also. These can include making buttermilk, fermented milk, sour cream and yogurt. These can be fed to children to make their immune system stronger. In order to provide children with more natural probiotics, one should keep a plentiful supply of fresh vegetables and foods.
If you thought all bacteria was harmful, think again. Our world is filled with living organisms, both inside us and around us. Our immune system alone is not enough to keep us going. It needs an extra kick, an extra hand to keep our body functioning appropriately. Hence, these living microorganisms can help us gain victory over illnesses and diseases that can make us sick and unproductive. Not only are they good for adults but also for children. Until further research is conducted on the possible side effects, the use of probiotics seems reasonable for the time being and with all kind of problems and obstacles that we are faced with in our everyday life, we do need to have a healthy body and mind to work and fight against all sorts of predicaments in order to have a better and stronger future.