The healthy image of greek yogurt isn’t just made up of it’s nutritional benefits, such as it’s high protein and low calorie count. No, besides it’s versatility and health benefits, the fact that greek yogurt contains probiotics has played a huge role in it’s success over the past years. But what are probiotics, and what do they do? Are they just a marketing tool used to promote greek yogurt, or are they legit and can they play an important role in our overall well-being? In this ultimate guide to probiotics I’m going to explain to you what probiotics are and explore it’s possible benefits and side effects. Ready to learn about probiotics? Here we go!
- 1 What are probiotics
- 2 Probiotic benefits
- 3 Probiotics and weight loss
- 4 Probiotics side effects
- 5 Natural probiotics versus probiotic supplements
- 6 Conclusion
What are probiotics
Probiotics didn’t really come “on the scene” until the 1990s when researchers started to wonder if these little buggers were actually good for us. They know bacteria are all over our body–both inside and out–so they knew there had to be more to these billions of bacteria than just infections and digestion. But what are probiotics, exactly? They are basically just bacteria that are beneficial to our body’s overall function. Before there’s any nose wrinkling, we need to remember that our bodies are riddled with both good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are our friends; they’re good bacteria. They’re naturally found in the body, but they’re also in different foods, mainly yogurt and fermented goods.
What do probiotics do? When we’re talking about probiotics benefits, the benefits come to light primarily when our body loses its naturally occurring good bacteria due to illness or after a round of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t discriminate between the friendly and the malicious bacteria throughout our bodies, so they wipe out most bacteria throughout the body, which is where probiotics come in. Putting good bacteria in the body can also eliminate the bad bacteria that lead to infections, helping fight an array of illnesses. They’ll also work to create a balance between the good and bacteria to support a healthy immune system. Worried about side effects? Probiotics side effects are pretty minimal and are usually limited to mild gas and bloating.
When we’re doing our research, the term “prebiotics” is sure to come up. Keep in mind that these are different than probiotics. A prebiotic is a dietary fiber and usually comes in the form of powder, meaning they aren’t found in foods like probiotics are. Instead of introducing bacteria into the body, they encourage the gut’s good bacteria to grow and stay healthy. They’re helpful to people with inflammatory bowel diseases or digestive disorders.
In summary, probiotics are good bacteria, while prebiotics grow existing good bacteria.
Lactobacillus gasseri has been shown to treat children quite successfully for irritable bowel syndrome. When patients were given 3 billion cells twice daily, the severity and frequency of their diarrhea episodes were significantly reduced. It’s also successful in reducing antibiotic-related diarrhea in kids. It also helps reduce the frequency and length of lung infections in young kids (1 to 6 years) who attend day care. When inserted into the vagina in capsule form, it decreases the frequency of vaginal bacterial infections.
Lactobacillus casei given twice daily to hospitalized adults who are taking antibiotics decreases the risk of diarrhea. Small children affected with rotavirus have shown improvement in the severity of diarrhea when given lactobacillus rhamnosus. Lactobacillus plantarum has shown a swift ability to digest protein, meaning it is helpful in treating minor food allergies and regulating stomach inflammation. Babies who suffer from painful colic have shown improvement in the amount of gas when they’re put on a lactobacillus reuteri regimen.
The probiotic acidophilus (lactobacillus acidophilus) is probably the most commonly utilized strain in the lactobacilli family. Most drug stores, no matter how small, carry an acidophilus probiotic in the form of an acidophilus pills or powders. Acidophilus benefits include reducing the frequency of bacterial infections in immunocompromised patients and lowering the negative side effects of lactose intolerance.
When products are labeled with certain strains of this family like bifidus actiregularis, bifidobacterium lactis, and bifidobacterium longum, know that they’re just marketing names made by a certain brand of yogurt marketed for “digestive health and regularity”. They’re not any different than the bifidus bacterium found in supplements.
Probiotics and weight loss
Why do these supplements help people lose weight? The authors of the study believe that they help make the walls of the intestine less permeable, meaning there are less molecules contributing to diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes that are able to enter the bloodstream. Of course, a probiotic isn’t responsible for weight loss; they have to be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
Probiotics side effects
Probiotics for women
Probiotics for men
Probiotics for children
Probiotics for babies
Natural probiotics versus probiotic supplements
Kombucha isn’t everyone’s cup of (fermented) tea, but if you like the taste, you’ll find it a sufficient replacement for soda because it’s fizzy and lightly sweetened. It’s been fermented with bacteria and yeast, meaning it’s completely loaded with probiotics. It’s great for naturally fighting yeast infections. Kefir, a mix between milk and yogurt, is a drink with the consistency of a thin milkshake. It’s naturally filled with the good stuff and can be purchased flavored or just poured over granola or fruit. Kimchi, a Korean pickled cabbage, is also chock full of probiotics, as well as vitamins and calcium.
Capsules and tablets are often coated in enteric coatings to protect the bacteria until it can get into the gut. Probiotic pills are usually made with controlled-release technology to keep the bacteria safe from the hostile stomach environment while slowly releasing the bacteria throughout the entire digestive tract. Probiotic tablets are usually preferred because the powders usually die in the stomach and don’t have the chance to reach the intestines where they’re really needed.
All in all, probiotics can do a lot for our bodies, and they’re so much more than a healthy side benefit of greek yogurt. These good little bacteria can balance out our bodies. From improving our immune system, maximizing out the body’s nutritional absorption and helping you lose weight. All with minimal side effects.
If you have a fairy tale with probiotic benefits that you’d like to share or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!