What are probiotics? Why are they so important in medical terms? Find out the answers to these questions and some more interesting facts about the same, in the following WellnessKeen article.
Probiotics are living microorganisms, usually certain species of beneficial bacteria, that are believed to impart health benefits to another organism – the host; if administered in particular quantities. The most common microorganisms that are administered as probiotics are Bifidus regularis and Lactic Acid Bacteria. The tried and tested efficacy of probiotics in terms of improving the health of the host lies in their potency against disorders of the lower gastrointestinal tract, urogenital region, and in boosting various immune functions.
Facts and Information
- An average healthy human being houses around 100-300 trillion probiotic life forms, including bacteria and yeast, within his/her body. This means that there are more microorganisms in our body than there are cells (there are about 10 trillion cells in an average human body)!
- The total weight of all naturally occurring probiotics in our body comes to somewhere around 3.5 pounds, which is more than what the brain weighs (3 pounds).
- It’s a misconception that they reside only in our stomach and gastrointestinal tract. They are present everywhere in the body – eyes, ears, nose, mouth, lungs, appendix, armpits, joints, colon, tonsils, esophagus, etc.
- Studies have shown that appendix is the cradle of biologically occurring probiotics! The appendix is where the probiotics incubate and this little organ has an active role in releasing these beneficial bacteria into the cecum, when the body is invaded by pathogens.
- Besides being effective against gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea, constipation, and improving digestive health, these bacteria are also known to be effective against colon cancer, lactose intolerance, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Fermented, curdled, or churned food items, such as, yogurt, buttermilk, tempeh, kefir, miso (Japanese seasoning made from fermented grains or beans), kimchi (fermented cabbage), sauerkraut, etc., are top probiotic foods, whose consumption provides us with natural good bacteria.
- About 70-80% of our body’s immune responses are activated because of these microorganisms.
- They are effective against those pathogenic bacteria, which are immune to antibiotics. In fact, antibiotics are responsible for lowering our immunity, as they kill the good bacteria along with the disease causing bacteria.
- All those 100-300 trillion bacteria that live inside our body comprise almost 400 different species of microbes including, bacteria, yeast, and fungal cells.
- Probiotics aid the absorption of nutrients like copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, potassium, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and phytonutrients by our body. In the absence of sufficient amounts of these beneficial bacteria, our body rejects many of these nutrients during the course of digestion, thereby, leaving our system weakened, despite eating proper food.
- The probiotics in supplements do not remain in the body for a long time. Therefore, it is better to eat probiotic-rich foods to reap the complete benefits of these microorganisms.
- Since the vaginal walls are richly lined by probiotics, a vaginal birth exposes the newborn to more of these beneficial microbes than a cesarean birth. This first dose of these microorganisms for infants automatically equips them to face the various pathogens and infectants on their very first brush with the outside world.
- However, there are certain side effects that call for careful and moderate consumption of these supplements. The adverse effects range from mild bloating, to disruption of the metabolic machinery, to over activation of the immune responses.