Probiotics - the other side of bacteria

Bacteria, which we generally associate with the bearers of bad health and infections; actually have another side too. A side which we normally are unaware of is the good side of a few beneficial bacteria which are naturally present in our body along with the harmful ones.

There are about 400 distinct species of microorganisms which are making up for about 1 percent of our body weight and among these are a couple of bacteria that are standing guard against infection and harmful toxins in our body. These two are namely lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These are also called probiotics, derived from a Greek adjective, literally means “for life” as opposed to anti-biotic which mean “against life”. Probiotics are produced by a chemical action of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts or a combination of both.

Medical research has now proved that foods rich in probiotic can promote the growth and preservation of these beneficial bacteria in our digestive system, thus building up our immune system better to fight against diseases.

Women can be greatly benefited by the promotion of probiotics in their body; mainly because according to clinical research, probiotics prevent the infection of the urinary tract. It can also help in the treatment of yeast infection of the urinary tract, which is a major breakthrough in the field of medical research. Also pregnant women are often recommended to use probiotic rich food or supplements; however such usage should always be recommended by the physician or started after consultation.

These helpful bacteria are also known to prevent colon cancer; however the findings are still in the preliminary stages.

Probiotics also help in lowering cholesterol, mainly because of its ability to break bile in the stomach. These are also said to help in lowering blood pressure, but again the findings have not been finalized. Inflammation of the stomach is also found to be reduced with the help of probiotics.

Although the research of the benefits of probiotics are far from completed, it is however prudent to include food rich in probiotics into our diet to help build a better digestive and immune system. 

Some of the food rich in probiotics are yogurt, soy milk, tofu, kefir, Sauerkraut, green pickles, kimchi, cheese and some other dairy products and fermented foods. While checking for the probiotic content labels, the point to keep in mind is to check the amount of probiotics at the time of consumption or expiration instead of manufacture, because the figures greatly differ. 

There are also various food supplements available in the market that are rich in probiotics but there are also the ones which make exaggerated claims of health benefits without the support of any clinical data. Care should be taken to carefully check the validity of such claims before going for any product.   

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