Did you know that there are approximately 10 times probiotics in your gut than there is in your body?
Probiotics: The Good Bacteria In Our Gut
They are bacteria found in your digestive tract or gut and influences your body’s ability to fight infection and absorb nutrients. Your digestive system and skin alone host around 2,000 distinct types of bacteria.
The moment a new-born steps into this world, so do the bacteria’s. As a new-born, you are first exposed to your mother’s bacteria while in the birth canal. And that starts a chain of reactions in the GI tract that ensure the production of the good bacteria.
It was not until the 1990s that people started to associate probiotics with some health benefits. Nowadays, they can be found in almost everything ranging from chocolate, yogurt to supplements.
According to a survey done by National Institutes of Health, the population of U.S. adults taking probiotics has increased by more than four times from 2007 to 2012, that is, from about 865, 000 people to almost four million.
In 2015, the global market of probiotics eclipsed the $35 billion mark according to Grand View, a business consulting firm based in San Francisco. Also, they predict the growth to double by 2025.
Probiotics Health Benefits
There have been countless challenges in trying to find out the exact benefits of probiotics. Why? There exist very many dissimilar strains of the bacteria and each of them works differently. To add salt to an injury, there has been limited research on the area mostly due to lack of enough funds for research.
However, the clinical trials that have already been done a couple of strings show that there are some benefits that can be associated with them. But when two or more strains come together, they may have a negative effect on your health.
Some Of The Benefits That Were Discovered During The Study Include:
- Averting some side effects of antibiotics treatment
- Supporting immune function
- Supporting healthy digestion
- Producing vitamin K2, butyrate and vitamin B12
- Destroying harmful bacteria by creating enzymes
- Stimulating secretion of regular T-cells and IgA
Science Behind Probiotics
Since the inception of the probiotics research, there have been some myths about probiotics that even scientists will not be able to quell in short-term. For instance, you will get the good bacteria from all types of yogurt regardless of its state – which is actually false.
According to scientific studies, these bacteria are very sensitive. So, do you think after adding them some flavors, putting them in a container and then exposing them when preparing yogurt will make any difference?
According to bacteria research studies done in 2015, these bacteria cannot survive harsh conditions. That means that yogurt may or may not contain these bacteria depending on storage conditions and whether it is fresh or not.
Some of the popular good bacteria in the small intestine are Lactobacilli and those in the large intestine are Bifidobacteria. If you go back to anatomy, you will recall that food goes to the stomach before heading to intestines. And what is the work of the stomach? To kill bacteria.
For yogurt, chances are the good bacteria may not survive the harsh conditions in the stomach. But if some survive, then in low quantities. Guess what? You may need millions if not billions of these bacteria in order to have an effect.
Luckily, the science of supplements can use a wrapping technology to cover the bacteria in a capsule that can pass the good bacteria past stomach. And that may be the biggest advantage of having supplements compared to taking other raw products
Is It Healthy?
Usually, Probiotics are yeasts and live bacteria that are beneficial to your health particularly on your digestive system. Although people think of diseases when a bacteria is mentioned, these bacteria don’t cause diseases.
There are two major groups of bacteria – the good and the bad. Because these bacteria help you keep your digestive tract healthy, they are the good guys. Thus, it is healthy to have them.
Probiotics Pros And Cons
Some of the advantages include:
- They maintain a desirable group of microorganisms
- They help your gut return to normal after using antibiotics
- Helps in absorption of nutrients
- Stimulates the body’s immune system
Some of the disadvantages include:
- They are very sensitive, that is, they easily die
- If many strains are combined, they may produce a negative effect
- Not suitable for everybody, for example, the sick and infants
- No enough research to associate each strain with its benefits
Probiotics Side Effects
Overall, Probiotics the good bacteria are considered safe for healthy people; but they may have short-term side effects like mild bloating and gas build up. That begs the question, if somebody is healthy, then why want more probiotics?
However, patients who are critically ill and those having immune-compromising conditions may be at risk of getting adverse effects. Those at risk may include hospitalized patients, postsurgical, sick infants, those in ICU (intense care unit) and those suffering from conditions like ischemia, fungemia, and sepsis.
Lastly, Probiotics studies are still a promising research field that may one day become the reference point of preventing and treating many disorders. But currently, there is no enough research to recommend the bacteria for widespread use.
In short, better, longer and larger research studies are needed to associate unique strains with specific conditions. Furthermore, determining the proper regimens and doses needed to make a change