Benefits of Probiotic Food

Uma ShankariStarred Page By Uma Shankari, 4th May 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Wellness

The army of trillions of friendly bacteria lining the intestine form the basis of our immune system and protect us from a host of ailments.

What Are Probiotics?

All animals including humans host numerous microbes inside their bodies. Probiotics are a type of living bacteria that actually benefit our health when taken in the appropriate amounts. They work synergistically with our digestive system and support the gastrointestinal health and immunity by supplying us with nutrients we cannot make ourselves.

There are 400 different bacteria living in the human gastrointestinal tract. Most often, the bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. A few common probiotics, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, are yeasts, which are different from bacteria.

How Do Microbes Benefit Us?

It is important to have a healthy balance of beneficial microbes to avoid sickness and disease. They act as balancing agents for non-friendly, pathogenic bacteria such as Candida or E. coli. They stimulate the intestinal immune system and also help exclude possible harmful organisms. When the good bacteria are not enough, a number of bacteria-related health problems such as digestive upset, headaches, sluggishness, irritability, candidiasis (an overgrowth of Candida) can follow.

Why Do We Lack Good Bacteria in Our Body?

There are many ways digestive microbes are killed. Many of our present-day healthy practices like chlorinated water, pasteurization and sterilization of foods and added preservatives remove all the microbes, both good and bad, from the food. Relentless and often unnecessary use of antibiotics that are designed to kill germs and disease, can kill the beneficial bacteria as well.

This can leave your body defenseless against harmful bacteria and fungi, such as the fast-growing Candida yeast that quickly dominates the small intestine. Candida needs sugar to thrive and multiply. Sugar, as well as processed food made with refined grains and alcohol, can all contribute to Candida growth.

Another cause for the growth of Candida is the use of contraceptive pill. Estrogen, the major ingredient in the contraceptive pill, is known to promote the growth of yeast. Similarly, the copper used in Intra Uterine Device (IUD) can contribute to Candida in much the same way as Estrogen does.

Using Natural Probiotics

The friendly microbes in our gut flora feed on nondigestible carbohydrates and help to protect gastro-intestinal and urogenital health by strengthening our resident micro flora. Probiotics also improve the bio-availability of many important nutrients in the body such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, all of the B vitamins, calcium, copper, and magnesium.

Probiotics have been around for more than 5000 years. Fermented milk products have been used for centuries. According to Persian tradition, Abraham of the Old Testament owed his longevity to the ingestion of fermented milk. Humans evolved using microbes, and the uncooked fruits, vegetables, and dairy products they eat contain microbes. The first microbes that we get are from breast milk.

Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt, while prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes.

Examples of foods containing probiotics are yogurt, buttermilk, miso and natto (made from fermented soybean), tempeh, and pickles like Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and Kombucha tea, which is a fermented sweet tea brew.

Probiotics enhance bowel function, prevent colon cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce infections, inflammation, prevent growth of harmful bacteria, improve immune function mineral absorption, and fight off diseases like candida and eczema.

They can be used to treat illnesses such as vaginal infections, tooth decay, H. pylori infection, irritable bowel syndrome, infectious diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Probiotics for Weight Loss?

Several studies show that obese people have different intestinal bacteria than slim people. Certain bacteria may cause low-grade inflammation in our body, contributing to obesity and difficulty in losing weight. It is a common observation that formula-fed babies tend to become obese, whereas breast-fed babies are at a lower risk of obesity. This is because bifidobacteria, a strain of bacteria that support healthy weight, flourish in the guts of breast-fed babies.

Obese people are found to have about 20 percent more of a family of bacteria known as firmicutes, and almost 90 percent less of bifidobacteria than lean people. Firmicutes help your body to extract calories from complex sugars and deposit those calories in fat and excess Firmicutes predisposes people to develop insulin resistance.

Probiotics encourage the growth of friendly bacteria and help us to maintain healthy weight.

Read Also

The Science of Brining and the Health Benefits of Pickles

Fermentation of Food: How They Work, and Their Benefits


Bifidobacterium, Fermented Food, Firmicutes, Gut Bacteria, Intestinal Flora, Lactobacillus, Obesity, Probiotic, Probiotics Benefits, Saccharomyces Boulardii, Toll-Like Receptor

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author avatar Uma Shankari
I write on society, relationships, travel, health, nutrition and fitness.
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author avatar Mounika Reddy
5th May 2012 (#)

Great article.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
6th May 2012 (#)

Very informative article. Thank you for sharing.

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