What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your health but especially good for your digestive system. When we think of bacteria we think about how they cause diseases and about how harmful bacteria can be. But the bacteria found in probiotics are helpful to your body - most specifically, your gut. They will help food go through your gut properly.
Probiotics have even been shown to treat bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, infectious diarrhea, and antibiotic-related diarrhea. Some people have also said that probiotics help skin conditions like eczema, urinary and vaginal health, help prevent allergies, and maintain oral health. Studies have also shown that while taking probiotics, there is an increase in the efficiency and function of the brain.
With the right amount of probiotics in your system, it makes it harder for any harmful bacteria to make their way into your body and make you sick.
Food Containing Probiotics
Probiotics are naturally found in your body. You find them in the food and the supplements that you eat. Probiotics are mostly found in foods like:
- Yogurt - This is one of the most familiar sources of probiotics. When buying yogurt, look for the ones saying “live and active cultures.”
- Sauerkraut - Eat the unpasteurized sauerkraut because pasteurization will kill the active and good bacteria.
- Cheese - This acts as a carrier for probiotics. Eating cheese can help to boost your immune system.
- Sourdough bread - This is the best bread for you to eat because this bread helps the most with digestion.
- Sour pickles - Eating pickles without the use of vinegar in the pickling process is the best. Instead, look for pickles with a sea salt and water solution. This type of pickle will help feed the growth of good bacteria and will help with digestion.
Why Probiotics Keep Us Healthy
As mentioned, probiotics are so important for people to include in their diets because they has been shown to improve people’s health. They keep us healthy in a number of ways:
- After taking antibiotics, some of the good bacteria may be lost. Probiotics can help to replace the good bacteria that you lost.
- When taking probiotics, you are reducing the number of “bad” bacteria that can cause diseases in your body.
- They help to balance the good and bad bacteria in your body, which will help your body to work like it should.
Types of Probiotics
There are different types of probiotics. These include:
- Lactobacillus - This is the most important probiotic. You’ll find this one in food products like yogurt and some other fermented foods. This type of probiotic can help with diarrhea and may help people who cannot digest lactose.
- Bifidobacterium - This type of probiotic can be found in most dairy products. This type will most likely help with any symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics have been shown to be very beneficial. They help to prevent future sicknesses and help to treat the symptoms of certain illnesses. To help keep your body as healthy as it can possibly be, incorporating probiotics into your diet should be something to consider.
Adding Probiotics to Your Lifestyle
Have you thought about adding probiotics to your diet? You create a good and healthy lifestyle for yourself when you add probiotics to your life. Luckily, probiotics come in many different and delicious foods. Some of those foods include pickles, sauerkraut, Kombucha tea, and yogurt. These foods keep your digestive and immune systems healthy.
Here are some things that probiotics can do for you:
- Help your urinary tract health - To help your urinary tract system working properly, the intake of probiotics is important. Probiotics will help prevent any bacteria from invading and damaging your urinary tract system.
Getting a urinary tract infection can be painful and uncomfortable, and means having to go to the doctor. They’ll prescribe antibiotics but there’s always a chance that it will return. By adding probiotics to your diet, you can stop it from recurring. Not only do the probiotics ward off any infections, they also help the system to maintain the good bacteria.
- Women get many rewards from taking probiotics - Sometimes a woman’s normal bacterial flora may get off balance. This can lead to an increase in urinary tract infections described above as well as vaginal issues. When not taking a wholesome amount of probiotics, women can experience yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Pregnant women are at an even greater risk at getting vaginal infections, which puts them at risk of having a premature labor.
- Prenatal health - Probiotics should be used by expecting mothers because they are very helpful to unborn babies. The use of probiotics while pregnant provides the baby with vital health benefits. Some of those health benefits include less of a chance at getting eczema and inflammation of the skin, and a decrease in the chances of them having allergies.
- Boost of your immune system - Consuming foods rich in probiotics can help your body to maintain a healthy intestinal foundation. Enthused immune responses have been shown with the incorporation of probiotics in your everyday lifestyle and diet.
- Fight obesity - When wanting to lose weight, you should add probiotics to your diet. This is because by adding probiotics, you can help boost your usual bodily functions that can help to stimulate weight loss naturally.
- Digestive health - This is one of the greatest advantages of taking probiotics. Antibiotics can destroy the good bacteria. But when probiotics are taken daily, the amount of good bacteria in your body increases. Having healthy bacteria in your body is needed to help maintain a healthy digestive system. Lack of good bacteria in your body can result in diarrhea, constipation, and cramps. With the use of probiotics, chronic issues like irritable bowel syndrome can be taken care of.
Adding probiotics into your lifestyle makes your body healthier and helps it function more efficiently. Consumption of probiotics has been shown to help relieve symptoms for many sicknesses. They have also helped to make people feel better and make their systems work better.
When the Bacteria in Your Body Is Off Balance
The bacteria in your body can get off balance. This can be caused by the intake of antibiotics. This is because antibiotics don’t just destroy bad bacteria, they can also destroy good bacteria. Taking probiotics can help to keep the bacteria in your body balanced. Here are some parts of your body that may be affected by the imbalance of the bacteria, as well as the symptoms caused by the imbalance of bacteria.
The majority of the bacteria is found in the large intestine where important functions are done. Bacteria like the bacteroides, bifidobacterium and blostridium help to stimulate the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. These bacteria can destroy toxic digestive by-products and can synthesize vitamin K. When your colon contains healthy colonies of bacteria, the colonies prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the food you eat.
In some situations the good bacteria in your colon may die. As mentioned, this occurs when you take antibiotics. The amount of good and bad bacteria in your colon is then off balance and the pathogenic organisms can grow out of control. You will then experience diarrhea. When you have diarrhea, you colon fails to absorb the water as it should, resulting in a loss of fluids. Digestion is usually impaired causing you to lose electrolytes, proteins, and vitamins.
The Small Intestine
Usually, the healthy bacteria in your body is present in your colon with only a few in your small intestine. But if you have Crohn's disease or diabetes, you might suffer from an overgrowth of microorganisms in your small intestine. This can cause some very serious digestion problems.
Bad bacteria in your small intestine needs nutrients to grow. This interferes with absorption and then destroy cells in your small intestine. This situation causes diarrhea because of the interference with digestion. You will have abdominal discomfort and if this persists, weight loss and malnutrition can occur.
If the good and the bad bacteria in your body become off balance, there are things you can do to relieve any pain and symptoms. If you are experiencing digestive problems, it is recommended that you eat probiotic foods. Probiotics contain live cultures of bacteria similar to the healthy types that inhabit your colon.
Some examples of foods that contain probiotics include natto or miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickles. Yogurt is a great food with plenty of probiotics and is a very healthy choice. It might also help to consume prebiotic supplements. These contain indigestible carbohydrates which good bacteria use as food. Prebiotics can help to correct the imbalance of bacteria in your body and this will in turn correct your digestive tract.
Your body warns you when something is wrong. So if you have any difficulties digesting food, your body is trying to tell you something. Be sure to listen to it. Add some probiotics to your diet because it will help to correct any imbalances of bacteria in your body.
Understanding the Bacteria in Your Body
In your body you have a large amount of bacteria. Ever since you were born, bacteria have had a place to call home inside of your body. They have colonized your body and they live there happily with everything they could ever need. There are both good and bad bacteria in your body. They all have their own jobs and they all do their own thing. Here is a list of the most harmful and the most beneficial bacteria that inhabit our bodies:
The Most Harmful Bacteria
- Streptococcus pyogenes - This type of bacteria causes a sore throat and skin infections that may worsen. When an infection worsens, it could lead to life-threatening issues like toxic shock syndrome.
- Escherichia coli - This type of bacteria causes diarrhea. However, some pathogenic strains may lead to more of a bloody diarrhea and circulatory shock.
- Staphylococcus - This type of bacteria lives on the skin. It is harmless unless it enters the body. It can enter during surgery and then inhabit heart valves or artificial joints. That’s when it can cause very dangerous and serious infections.
The Most Beneficial Bacteria
- Lactobacillus acidophilus - This type of bacteria lives in many parts of your body. The most common place is your intestine, vagina, and oral cavity. It helps to ensure your vagina does not get an overgrowth of microorganisms and it’s responsible for the pH scale of the vagina to be slightly acidic. This bacteria has also been known to boost immunity.
Because of all the benefits it has, it is used in food supplements. It is also found naturally in foods like yogurt, tempeh and miso.
- Bacillus subtilis - This helps to normalize gut motility and metabolic functioning. It is found in foods like yogurt, cheese, milk, ice cream, and fermented soybeans.
- Bifidobacterium animalis - This type is found in the intestine of both humans and animals. It aids in the digestion process. If you are constipated or have irritable bowel syndrome, you can take this in supplemental doses to ease and improve the symptoms.
- Streptococcus thermophilus - This type of bacteria can strengthen immunity and can strengthen the function ability of the gut. It can be obtained from dairy products like cheese.
- Lactobacillus reuteri - This type is found in maternal breast milk and will become a permanent part of the gut flora. It can also be found in foods like cheese and yogurt.
We have been trained to think that all bacteria is bad. But without the bacteria in our bodies, we wouldn’t be able to break down food or create nutrients needed for us to survive. The bacteria inhabited in our bodies also determines whether or not we experience diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.
How to Correctly Use Probiotics
Probiotics have been shown to be amazing for your body, especially your gut. Here are some tips to ensure that the probiotics you’re consuming aren’t going to waste.
- Seek Out the Fermented Foods
Fermentation concentrates the vitamins in plants, such as B and C vitamins. When you eat fermented products, your gut is then filled with good bacteria. Foods in this category include yogurt, miso, sourdough bread, tamari, and Kombucha. These foods all contain natural probiotics.
Sauerkraut is also a great option. It’s one of the cheapest probiotics that you can buy. The best sauerkraut with the most probiotics is the one that is fermented in saltwater. Don’t buy the foods submerged in vinegar because the vinegar disturbs the gut's natural acidic level.
- Be Selective When Purchasing Probiotic-Enriched Foods
The only foods with probiotics are the fermented foods. However, food manufacturers have recently started putting beneficial bugs into everything they make. Those foods include things like cereal, bread, and snack bars. When probiotic cultures are separated from their original source and then added to processed foods, the benefits of the probiotics do not transfer.
Extreme temperatures can kill any healthy bugs too, so the advantages of probiotics when added to things like ice cream, become debatable.
- Buy and Store Any Probiotic-Rich Foods in Glass Jars
Don’t put your probiotics in a metal tin. The aluminum used in the tin can interfere with the lactic acid in fermented foods and create toxins. You also should never put your probiotics in soft plastics because loose chemicals could push their way into your food.
- Chill the Probiotics
After you open the probiotic food, place it in the refrigerator. If you keep your probiotics chilled, you can help prolong the life of the probiotic. If you place the food in the refrigerator, useful bacteria can multiply on the food as long as the container is not contaminated in any way. Live supplements can survive weeks, even months, in the refrigerator. They’ll survive even longer if they’re freeze-dried.
- Analyze Your Foods and Supplement Needs
If you are trying to tackle a digestive issue, you might want to go for the probiotic supplement. Don’t just buy random foods with probiotics, though. Each type of probiotic does a different thing. You should know that the strain which combats irritable bowel syndrome is different than the one that fights urinary tract infections, for example.
If you’re unsure, consult the supplement manufacturer. However, if you are simply just trying to improve your health, you might want to go with the high-quality, probiotic-rich foods rather than a supplement.
- Eat Less Junk Food
Processed foods contain ingredients that irritate the gut, which makes it hard for the good stuff to flourish. An occasional cookie won’t do you any harm, but if you have junk food every day it can inflame the gut's lining. Eventually the bad bacteria will rule the roost. This weakens the stomach acid, which will slow the nutrient absorption and concentrate bile. This can then prevent the necessary evacuation of toxins. The result is an increase in your risk of nutrient deficiencies and hormone-related cancers.
It is important to make sure that while taking probiotics you don’t do anything to prevent the probiotics from working correctly.
Tips for Keeping the Proper Bacteria Balance
It’s important to have the perfect balance of both good and bad bacteria in your gut. Here’s how you can make sure that you keep the good kind of bacteria where it should be.
Healing Your Gut
If you are eating a lot of sugar, you are feeding the wrong kind of bacteria to your gut. You are more prone to getting diseases than getting and being healthy. Instead, you'll want to promote the good kind of bacteria which will keep you healthy and prevent any diseases.
You can fix any damage to your gut and keep a proper balance by optimizing your diet. You can do this by adding fermented foods like dairy and vegetables. Another option is to add a high-quality probiotic to your diet.
Probiotics are very important partners with the defense system of your intestine. Optimizing your gut's health should be started at a very young age. Many babies nowadays are not getting the natural healthy infusion of the beneficial gut bacteria. The earlier this can be corrected, the better it will be.
Breastfeed your child if at all possible because bottle feeding places a heavy toll on the babies’ intestinal health. For mothers who are breastfeeding, if you are not including fermented foods into your diet, you should consider taking probiotic supplements - especially if you are consuming a lot of processed foods.
Taking Probiotic Supplements
As human beings, we tend to consume a lot of sugars and grains. Everyone should take probiotics because it is a helpful start to a new and healthy recovery. The best source of probiotics come from naturally fermented foods. These foods should always be your first choice.
If you do decide to add supplements, look for and use the high potency, multi-strain variety. This can be found in nearly every nutrition store. Probiotics are also especially helpful if you are going somewhere where you are highly susceptible to diarrhea. Usually, high doses of a high-quality probiotic is the most useful for a rapid recovery to diarrhea.
Having an imbalance of good and bad bacteria can lead to some pretty serious illnesses. If you’ve eaten lots of junk food in your life, especially every day, your gut could be in danger of having an imbalance. But, your gut could also be in danger because of the usage of antibiotics. Antibiotics can attack the good bacteria in your body, causing an imbalance.
There are things you can do to treat any damage done, though. This will prevent anything going seriously wrong in your body. Probiotics is a very important thing that you can start adding to your diet. They don’t just prevent you from getting diarrhea from traveling. They can also correct any damage junk food and antibiotics may have done to the good bacteria in your body.
You may not think that your gut is important, but it is. It plays a big role in keeping you healthy. Take good care of yourself. By taking probiotics, you can do that.
Prebiotics in Your Food
Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and maintenance of the gut. They also feed and support the growth of beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, in your large intestine.
Fructooligosaccharides are prebiotics compounds that are used to manufacture prebiotic supplements, for example inulin and oligofructose. They include several types of molecules. These prebiotic compounds are about one third as sweet as sugar is but they’re calorie free. This makes them useful sweeteners for dairy products, desserts, and breakfast cereals.
Prebiotics can be found in a great variety of foods. Here is a list of five of those foods that can help you get a healthier gut:
- Chicory and Jerusalem Artichoke - These foods are very high in inulin and oligofructose, which makes them used commonly for commercial sources of inulin. The chicory root contains about 15 to 20% of inulin. There is approximately 5 to 10% oligofructose. For prebiotic purposes, the daily consumption is recommended at 4 to 10 grams. Higher doses are recommended to help prevent constipation.
- Asparagus and Leek - These are also a great source for inulin. The high source of inulin is great for producing butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain of fatty acid that probiotic bacteria produces. Butyrate helps prevent inflammation in the intestinal tract.
- Onions - These also contain a very high amount of both inulin and oligofructose. This vegetable provides 6 to 18 grams of the prebiotic compound in a typical serving of onion soup. It has been shown that consuming onion prebiotics improves intestinal health.
- Milk - Lactulose, found in pasteurized, ultra-heat treated, and sterilized milk, promotes the growth of bifidobacteria. This is a group of probiotic bacteria. To produce hydrogen, the intestinal bacteria uses the lactulose. The intestinal bacteria also uses the lactulose to neutralize free radicals and to protect against liver damage and cardiovascular disease.
If you add exercise to your lifestyle while combining with milk, it is shown to have raised hydrogen levels. This in turn, increases the effectiveness of the lactulose.
- Bananas and Sorghum - There’s a prebiotic referred to as a resistant starch, which you can get from raw green bananas. Resistant starch lets the probiotic bacteria survive the acidic environment in your stomach. If they can survive through the acidity in your stomach, they can then get to your small and large intestines where they need to be.
Sorghum flour is an alternative for people who can’t digest gluten. This flour is also a very resistant starch. If you want to get the greatest amount of resistant starch, you can cook the sorghum.
Prebiotics are great things to add to your diet and lifestyle. They help to keep you gut healthy and happy. It is suggested that you consume about 135 grams per day of prebiotic fiber. It may seem like a lot, but it’s all worth it in the end. Your body will thank you for putting all of the necessary amounts of prebiotics in it. It definitely makes it better knowing that the foods with prebiotics in them are so good!
How to Choose Probiotic Supplements
Finding the right type of probiotic for your body is very important. But unfortunately it’s not as easy as you want it to be. There is a large range of probiotics, all with different ingredients and different things they do for your body. To find the right probiotic, follow these steps and tips:
- Read the Label
It’s important to read the probiotic label so you know exactly what types of probiotics are in the product. All labels should include:
- The species and strain of the microorganisms. Many labels only include the species, but the different strains provide different benefits.
- Number of organisms in a single dose and how often you should take it. Choose one with at least seven strains and five billion colony-forming units (CFU).
- Storage information. The label needs to tell you the best storage for the probiotics. Always keep your probiotics away from heat and moisture.
- “Live and active cultures”. When buying yogurt, look for the yogurt that has this on the label. If the label doesn’t have this, the probiotic bacteria could be dead.
- Encapsulated pills ensure that the bacteria can survive through the acidity in your stomach and be able to reach your colon.
- Certification by an independent third party. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate most probiotics. This means that the amount of bacteria stated on the container may not be accurate. Always be sure that everything has been tested.
- Cure Whatever Symptoms That You Have
Probiotics help with our immune systems and our digestive systems. They will help with any yeast infections you may have and any digestive problems you have come across. Look for these things in a probiotic:
- Find a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria. This is because the gut contains 30-40 strains. The more strains, the happier and healthier you will be.
Here is a list of different health conditions that probiotics can help with:
- If you’re traveling, take saccharomyces boulardii a couple of weeks before your trip. Taking this probiotic will help prevent traveler’s diarrhea. Many people get this by digesting food or water that has been infected with bacteria.
- If you’re lactose intolerant, you should take lactobacillus bulgaricus. This will help the gut to digest lactase.
- Feed and Treat Your Gut Properly
Having the right probiotics is important for your gut, but now you have to keep it healthy. The bacteria in your colon thrive on non-digestible fibers. This is also known as prebiotics. Feed the bacteria two-four servings of garlic, bananas, artichokes, whole grains, and honey to keep your gut happy and healthy. Most probiotics already have prebiotics in them but they’ll be listed on the label as inulin.
Choosing the right probiotic for your body is very important. Probiotics have been known to get rid of any symptoms of sickness and it’s used to prevent illnesses from happening. This is one of the reasons why finding the right probiotic is so important. Doing some research on the perfect probiotic for you ensures that you get a good quality product. If you’re ever not sure on the best probiotic for you, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor.
Health Issues Caused by Bacterial Imbalances
If you are experiencing digestive problems along with some discomfort, you could have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Many ongoing health problems are overlooked, and the health problems the person is having can be related to many different things. And sometimes those things can lead to worse things if not treated.
Some health problems that are caused by an imbalance of bacteria include:
- An unhealthy digestive flora - This can be caused by the overgrowth of the bacteria candida. This can also result in a weakness in the gut membrane. Healthy gut by-products will then be produced which helps to keep the intestinal lining strong, but without enough good bacteria, the intestinal tract becomes highly vulnerable to damage. This will then lead to inflammation, which can result in an ulceration. This will destroy the mucosal lining of the intestinal wall.
- Bacterial vaginosis - A woman’s vagina has a natural occurrence of bacteria, but there’s an even mixture of good and bad. When that bacteria is disrupted and the mixture between the good and bad bacteria is uneven, it causes bacterial vaginosis.
Approximately 16% of expecting mothers have bacterial vaginosis. Some women who have bacterial vaginosis don’t have any symptoms. But the women who do have symptoms may experience discharge with a strong and foul odor, vaginal discharge that may be white or gray in color, vaginal itchiness, a painful or burning sensation when urinating, and/or vaginal odor that is very strong, and with a fishy smell after sex.
If bacterial vaginosis is left untreated, it can lead to more serious illnesses. These include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease - This is an inflammation of the female reproduction system. This includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries. Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to many difficulties, including ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
- Pregnancy complications - Many expecting mothers have had underweight babies because of bacterial vaginosis. It is also known to cause premature ruptures of the membrane which means that your water breaks too early.
- A greater chance at getting a sexually transmitted disease - Women who are infected by bacterial vaginosis have a greater chance at contracting HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
- Increased risk of infection - There is a greater chance that after surgery, women affected by bacterial vaginosis may develop an infection afterwards. Those infections typically attack the reproductive system.
If you experience any symptoms, consult your doctor. They’ll prescribe either oral antibiotics, or you’ll get medication in the form of a cream which will be inserted into your vagina. Be sure to use all your antibiotics and listen to what your doctor says. If you don’t, there’s a good chance that you’ll get bacterial vaginosis again.
If you suspect that you have any of these illnesses, see your doctor. It’s important to get the problem fixed before it gets worse and leads to something more serious.
Take care of your body. There are ways to prevent these things from happening. Taking probiotics will help. Bacterial imbalances happen when taking antibiotics, but probiotics can help erase the bad that the antibiotics can do to your body.
Get Your Probiotics Naturally through Food
There are many foods that contain probiotics. Most of the bacteria in your body lives in your gut. With the consumption of the right amount of food with probiotics, you can make your gut work well. The top ten foods that contain probiotics include:
- Yogurt - Live-cultured yogurt is the best known probiotic food, especially if it’s homemade yogurt. Read the labels and make sure the ingredients in the yogurt are not equal to ice cream. Unhealthy ingredients include things like high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors.
- Miso soup - This Japanese food is often used as a digestive regulator. With the addition of the miso in some hot water, it creates a very probiotic-rich soup.
- Sauerkraut - This is made with fermented cabbage which makes it rich in healthy live cultures. With the incorporation of sauerkraut in your diet, you can help reduce any of your allergy symptoms. Not only that, but sauerkraut also has an abundance of vitamins including vitamin C, A, B and E.
- Kefir - This fermented dairy product is very similar to yogurt. It’s a combination of goat’s milk and fermented kefir grains. Packed with high amounts of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, this goat milk and kefir grain mixture is also rich in antioxidants.
- Kombucha - This is a type of fermented tea that has a high level of healthy gut bacteria. It is used by many people to increase their energy, enhance wellbeing, and help lose some extra pounds.
- Microalgae - Although this isn’t considered to be a food, you can add this to your smoothies. This is considered to be a superfood.
- Pickles - This is another great source of probiotics. The less commercialized the pickle is, the better it is for you. But no matter the type of pickle, there is almost always some microbial value.
- Tempeh - Instead of eating meats or tofu, try substituting them with tempeh. It’s a fermented, probiotic grain made with soy beans. There are also many ways to eat it. You can crumble the tempeh up and put it on salads, it can be sautéed, or it can be baked.
- Poi - This Hawaiian food is teeming with bacteria (even more than yogurt). It hasn’t officially been recognized as a pro-biotic food but since has so much good bacteria in it, it can be classified as a probiotic.
- Kimchi - This is an Asian dish and it’s a form of pickled sauerkraut. It contains plenty of good bacteria but it also has high amounts of beta-carotene, calcium, vitamins C, A, B1, and B2, and high amounts of iron. It is a spicy food so if you can handle the spice, it’s a good probiotic to add to your diet.
To get your probiotics naturally, eat these ten foods. They contain high amounts of good bacteria which will greatly increase the efficiency of the digestive and immune systems in your body. These foods are great for your body and great for your taste buds!