What are Probiotics: Types, Benefits, and Side Effects

What are Probiotics: Types, Benefits, and Side Effects

The word ‘Probiotics’ comes from two words – ‘pro’ that refers to promoting and ‘biotic’ which means ‘life’. The ‘good’ or ‘useful’ bacteria probiotics are suggested to be consumed or applied to the body. These microorganisms are said to have numerous health benefits to the body. However, the common misconception of the people is that germs or bacteria are harmful to the body. This article, therefore, deals with what are probiotics, their meaning, uses, benefits, side effects, and all other useful information that a person wants to know about it.

What are probiotics?

To understand what are probiotics, probiotics are the good or useful live yeasts and bacteria that if consumed or applied to the body are said to have numerous health benefits to it. It is said to treat and prevent various diseases and produce vitamins. Along with this, it is also said to promote a healthy immune system and digestive tract. Additionally, they also keep a check on several allergies and skin diseases.

However, it is common or people to identify all bacteria or microorganisms as harmful to the body. However, it is important to understand that many microorganisms can actually benefit the body in various ways. These useful bacteria can be found in various beauty products, yogurt, certain cheese, pickled vegetables dietary supplements and other fermented foods amongst others.

What are the types of probiotics?

There are various types of probiotics. Each of these probiotics has different effects on the body. Some of the most common probiotics that are suggested by the doctors are:

Bifidobacterium

It is one of the most important probiotics present in the body. There are various benefits of this kind of probiotics. Some of them are:

  1. It helps the body in breaking down the lactose into nutrients.
  2. Supports and boosts the immune system.
  3. It helps the intestine by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
  4. It helps to cure irritable bowel syndrome.
  5. Promotes microbial balance.
  6. Stimulates immune responses.

Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus is one of the most commonly found kinds of probiotics. These generally live in the small intestines, mouth, vagina and the urinary system of the body. They are found in various foods like yogurt and various other fermented foods. Some of the function or benefits of this kind of probiotics are:

  1. This probiotic produces lactic acid. Lactic acid works in minimizing the bad bacteria.
  2. It increases the absorption of minerals by the body.
  3. Fuels the muscles.
  4. It helps to fight urinary tract and gut infections.

Saccharomyces boulardii

It is a kind of yeast that is found in probiotics. These are resistant to the antibiotics and acids of the stomach. Some of the benefits or functions of this kind of probiotics are:

  1. It helps to fight diarrhea.
  2. It helps to fight various digestive problems.
  3. The Saccharomyces boulardii helps to promote immune health.

 What are the uses of probiotics?

For getting a better insight into what are probiotics, it is a must to understand the probiotics uses. The probiotic uses are many. There are several ways in which the probiotics help affects the body in a good way. To pick a few of the main uses of probiotics are:

It helps to prevent diarrhea

Diarrhea can occur for various reasons. It can be as a result of intaking a lot of antibiotics or various other reasons. It has been seen that intaking probiotics helps to prevent a person from various kinds of diarrhea and also treat the same. The effectiveness of probiotics depends on the amount of it consumed.

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It helps in maintaining vaginal health

The probiotics help to maintain the health of the vagina. It prevents the vagina from various diseases and infections like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections. This is for the fact that the probiotics help in restoring the microflora balance of the vagina.

Probiotics help to lose weight

There are certain probiotics that helps a person to lose all the belly fat and excessive weight. This is due to a number of reasons. The first is that probiotics help a person to stay full for a longer period of time. This thus helps them to eat less. In addition to that, it also helps in storing less fat and burning more calories. This is because it prevents the intestine from storing dietary fat. However, there are other kinds of probiotics too which increases the weight of an individual.

It helps to boost the immune system

The intake of probiotics have proved to boost the immune system and also protect the body against various infections. This is because many probiotics help to produce natural antibodies inside the body. Along with this, it also stops the harmful gut bacteria from growing. They also help to reduce the chances of respiratory infections.

Probiotics help to keep away heart diseases

Probiotics work towards lowering the blood pressure and LDL or bad cholesterol of the body. The probiotics do this by breaking down the bile that is present in the gut. Some probiotic is also seen to keep the LDL unaffected. Instead, these are shown to increase the level of good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol.

It helps to balance the digestive system

Consuming probiotics can help increase the good bacteria of the body. This, therefore, helps to improve the digestive system by keeping a balance of the good and bad bacteria of the gut. The number of bad bacteria of the gut can increase as a result of various things. Some of them being poor diet, certain illnesses, consuming certain medications, etc. Similarly, when the amount of bad bacteria increases, the body can get affected in various ways. Some of these consequences include weight gain, mental health issues, allergies and digestive problems amongst others.

Probiotics help to improve certain mental health problems

Consuming probiotics on a regular basis has shown positive results in treating certain mental health issues. These issues include stress, anxiety, depression and memory. This is mainly because according to various studies on what are probiotics, good gut health is bound to increase the mental health of a person.

What are the foods that contain Probiotics?

Consuming probiotics have proven to have certain positive health effects to humans. It is said to promote good bacteria to the body that affects the body in a good way. One of the main benefits of it is that it helps to keep the gut healthy by maintaining a balance of the good and bad bacteria in it.

Now that a person is aware of what are probiotics and the benefits it adds to the health of them, it remains a must to know what are the foods are that contain probiotics. Hence, here is the list of some of the delicious foods that a person can add in their diet to promote good health.

1. Yogurt

Yogurt serves as one of the best sources of probiotics. This is mainly because the milk with which the yogurt is made is fermented with good bacteria. Hence, consuming yogurt can have certain good benefits to health. Some of them are:

  • It improves bone health.
  • It helps reduce diarrhea, gastric and various other digestive problems.
  • Yogurt helps to reduce eh symptoms of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • It helps to improve gut health and maintains a healthy balance of it.

However, while purchasing the yogurt a person must search for the words ‘live active cultures’. They must choose the ones without added sugar since they would not be as effective and promote bad bacteria.

2. Kefir

Kefir is a fermented probiotic drink that contains milk and kefir grains. It serves as a better option for everyone who has a problem digesting dairy products. It is also a better choice for people who have lactose intolerance. Some of the health benefits that kefir has are:

  • It helps to relieve various gastrointestinal problems.
  • It can cure various allergies.
  • Kefir helps to improve bone health.
  • It helps to protect a person against various infections.
  • It helps to improve heart health.
  • Kefir helps to improve digestion.
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3. Pickles

The goodness that pickles do to the body is many. The pickles are a great source of probiotic bacteria and helps in digestion. Pickles also contain a good amount of sodium. Along with that they help in blood clotting since they are a great source of vitamin K and contain very low calories. However, before getting a pickle a person must ensure they are rich in probiotics. It is important to ensure that the pickle was not fermented using vinegar but in natural process. This is since vinegar halts the growth of bacteria in the pickles.

4. Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional spicy and fermented side dish of Korea. The ingredients required to prepare this side dish is radish and cabbages. Along with that it also requires to be flavored with herbs and spices, chili powder ginger, red chili flakes, salt, garlic, and others. The goodness of Kimchi lies in the fact that it contains Lactobacillus kimchi or lactic acid bacteria. This helps to improve the digestive health of a person. Along with that, the cabbage with which the Kimchi is prepared contains a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and iron.

5. Cheese

Cheese is another dairy product (other is yogurt) that contains a good amount of healthy bacteria. However, before purchasing cheese it is important to ensure that they are made of active and live cultures. There are various nutritional values of cheese. It contains a good amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Hence, consuming a good amount of cheese can prevent a person from osteoporosis, bone and heart diseases and various other diseases. Some of the cheese that contains probiotics is Gouda, mozzarella, cottage cheese and cheddar cheese amongst others.

Probiotics side effects

To understand in-depth what are probiotics, it is also important to assess the side effects that it contains. Hence, a few of the probiotics side effects are:

It may cause problems in digestion

Although this occurs in very few people, sudden consumption of probiotics can cause gastric and bloating problems in certain people. Along with that, they might also face problems of continued third. Although this is expected to away after certain weeks of continued consumption. If the problem persists even after a few weeks, it is suggested to consult a doctor.

They can increase the chances of infection

In very rare cases there are some people who were at a higher risk of getting infections from the bacteria and the yeast that enters the bloodstream. This mainly includes people who have low immune systems, have acute pancreatitis or have suffered from certain serious illnesses or have had surgery in recent times. Hence, for keeping themselves on the safer side people with any of these symptoms should not take probiotics.

Probiotics can trigger a headache

There are certain people who are sensitive to the amines that are present in some of the fermented food that contains probiotics. These amines are known to decrease or increase the flow of blood to the nervous system by exciting it. Therefore people who are sensitive to these amines can get a headache or migraine in some people. Some of these probiotic-rich foods are yogurt, cheese, and kimchi amongst others. Therefore, people who have chances of triggering a headache might want to avoid these foods and instead opt for having supplements of probiotics.

To have a quick look back to what are probiotics, probiotics are the healthy microorganisms that work towards keeping a person healthy and improve their immune system. The benefits that the probiotics give are various. Along with that, it contains little or no side effects attached to it. Therefore, for ensuring good gut health a person must include probiotic-rich foods in their diet or can also opt for the probiotic supplements that are available.

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