When the intestinal flora is not in balance, which usually occurs after the use of antibiotics or when you do not have a healthy and balanced diet, the intestine ends up being populated by bad bacteria, which do not help the immune system and leave the body susceptible to diseases.
Probiotics contain living organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria that add directly to the population of healthy microbes in the gut. You can take probiotics both through food and from supplements.
Probably the most common probiotic food is yogurt. Yogurt is obtained by fermenting the milk with different bacteria that remain in the final product. Other bacteria-fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi, are also good sources of probiotics. Probiotic supplements also contain living organisms.
A single dose can include a particular strain of microbes or a mixture of microbes. As with prebiotic supplements, probiotic supplement companies market products for specific conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome. A registered dietitian can help you analyze food sources for prebiotics and probiotics.
The main benefits of probiotics are:
- Fight and prevent intestinal diseases such as colitis, irritable bowel syndrome
- Fight diseases such as cancer, candidiasis, hemorrhoids and urinary infection
- Improve digestion and fight heartburn
- Fight constipation and diarrhea, regulating intestinal transit
- Increase the absorption of nutrients, such as B vitamins, calcium and iron
- Strengthen the immune system, by increasing the production of macrophages, defense cells of the body
- Prevent the growth of bad bacteria in the intestine
- Help digest lactose, especially in people with intolerance to this component
- Prevent problems such as obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension
- Prevent allergies and food intolerances
How to take probiotics
There are two main ways to ingest probiotics: through increased consumption of foods that are considered natural probiotics, such as yogurt or kefir, for example and; the other way is through the use of probiotic supplements.
1. Probiotic foods
Plain yogurt: they are the main and easiest source of probiotics on the market, but there are also versions of flavored yogurts that keep beneficial bacteria alive.
Kefir: it is a product fermented with yeast and bacteria, similar to yogurt, but has a higher amount of probiotics. See more about kefir
Fermented milk: these are special products that generally contain Lactobacillus added by the industry, with Yakult being the most famous
2. Probiotic supplements
In addition to food, probiotics can also be consumed as supplements and there are various presentations: capsules, liquids or sachets, which must be diluted in water or natural juices to be consumed.
Difference between prebiotics and probiotics
While probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in the intestine, prebiotics are fibers that serve as food for probiotics and that promote their survival and proliferation in the intestine.
Some examples of natural prebiotics are oatmeal, onion, garlic, green banana, and the biomass of green banana. All of them are natural prebiotics, so you can ate them without any kind of scare.