As they say, there are two sides to the same coin. And same is the case with microbes as well. While certain microorganisms can cause harm to us, there are also good microbes known as Probiotics which are beneficial for the health of human beings as well.
Even though we cannot see them, microorganisms are present everywhere – inside and around us. From the skin to the colon, the human body has several kinds of microorganisms that inhabit it. The kind of microorganisms that reside in our body determine our health status and our ability to fight disease. Our gut is home to a large number of microorganisms. The collection of microorganism in the gut (gastrointestinal system) is termed as gut microbiota. The symbiotic relationship between the gut microbiota and the individual is regulated and stabilized by a variety of metabolic, endocrine and immune cross talk between the two.
Probiotics are those microorganisms that are gut friendly, supporting good health and they can be consumed either through foods or via supplements.
The most natural and common food sources of probiotics are:
- Yogurt or dahi
- South Indian foods like idli & dosa
- Fermented soyabean
- Sourdough bread
It is sometimes difficult to maintain a diet that has the right kind of probiotics in the right dosage. This has resulted in the rising popularity of probiotic capsules all across the world. Probiotics play a vital role and help to keep you healthy and fit. Some of the important functions of probiotics are as follows:
- Maintain healthy intestinal flora
Our intestines contain both good and bad bacteria and they are usually in healthy balance. But whenever you become ill, bad bacteria multiply and increase in number. Probiotics for gut health help in fighting off these bad bacteria and thus improve your health and make you feel better. Hence these good bacteria help to maintain healthy gut flora. You can also consume probiotic capsules on a regular basis as a preventive approach and to keep your intestines healthy.
- Prevention and treatment of diarrhoea/loose motions
Diarrhoea can be caused due to several reasons and as a consequence of it, the good bacteria in the digestive tract are reduced in count. Studies suggest that supplementing with probiotics for gut health such as Lactobacillus species can help reduce the risk and severity of diarrhoea.
- improves mental health
Many recent researches have established the link between gut health and mental health. Probiotics may help in various mental health issues such as depression; anxiety disorders etc and improve overall mood and cognitive function. These probiotics which may be useful in mental disorders are also known as psychobiotics. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species can be consumed as probiotics capsules to enhance mental health.
- Improves heart health
Probiotics may improve the functioning of the heart in several ways like:
- They may help in lowering cholesterol levels
- They may help in reducing blood pressure
- They may help in reducing inflammatory markers
- Prevention and treatment of allergies and eczema
Probiotics may help prevent and improve the symptoms of patients with different types of allergies like allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema (atopic dermatitis).
- Prevention and treatment of intestinal disorders
Probiotics may help improve the condition of patients suffering from various intestinal diseases like ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel disease, chronic constipation, necrotizing enterocolitis, antibiotic-induced diarrhoea
- Helps maintain weight and reduce belly fat
Probiotics may help in losing excess weight by different mechanisms like decreasing absorption of fat from the diet, burning extra calories, and feeling less hungry. Probiotic capsules with the Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Lactobacillus gasseri may particularly help reduce excess weight and belly fat.
- Helps improve the immunity
Immunity is the ability of a person to fight off different types of disease-causing agents. Probiotics consumption may play a pivotal role in improving immunity by reducing the chances of infection as well as supporting immune responses and thus improve the health status of an individual. Based on your health concern, consuming the right kind of probiotic capsules can greatly enhance your immunity.
- Useful in dental diseases
Probiotics may have a role in reducing the incidence of dental cavities and periodontal diseases (gum diseases) as well.
It is believed that the ratio of human to microorganism cells in the body is 1:1. It is therefore critical to ensure that we maintain the integrity of our gut microbiota to reap maximum health benefits from it. It is about time that probiotic capsules become a part of your daily nutrition.