Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain the natural flora of the intestines. The following article provides information on the use of probiotics during pregnancy.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, which are also known as good bacteria. They are just like the bacteria that are naturally present in the human gut. Kefir and yogurt are good sources of natural probiotics. Probiotics were discovered by Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian microbiologist, winner of The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. They stimulate growth and confer numerous health benefits.
The importance of integrating lactic acid-producing bacteria into the diet is being studied all over the world, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has announced numerous health benefits of these bacteria. In fact, beneficial bacteria are in use since centuries, in food and alcoholic fermentation. As these bacteria promote growth, they are termed ‘probiotics’, in contrast to ‘antibiotics’ which are supposed to inhibit bacterial growth.
It was found that replacing harmful bacteria in the gut flora with beneficial ones is quite possible. Gut flora is the term used for the millions of microorganisms that normally live in the digestive system of humans and animals. Of these, the good bacteria mainly help reduce the multiplication of harmful or pathogenic bacteria and maintain the balance. The most common strains used are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These are widely consumed as they strengthen your immune system. Therefore, consumption of probiotics during pregnancy is considered safe.
As aforementioned, probiotics promote a healthy digestive and immune system. They work great for irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, and allergies.
According to the latest research, if they are consumed by women during the first trimester of pregnancy, then there are less chances of developing obesity-related problems after childbirth.
A pregnant woman is usually under stress, and many hormonal changes can be observed during pregnancy. All this can lead to an upset digestive system, resulting in constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or discomfort. Probiotics, along with stabilizing the digestive system, inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. They increase resistance to certain infections and disease-causing bacteria.
These good bacteria are present in fermented dairy products like yogurt, cheese, milk, sour cream, kefir, etc. Miso, tempeh, and soy beverages may also contain probiotics. Various dietary supplements are also available in the markets. But, probiotic supplements recommended by the physician should only be consumed by pregnant women and nursing mothers. Wrong doses may cause flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. There are increased chances of developing infections and rashes, which may require prompt medical attention. Consumption of excess of probiotics may disturb the metabolic processes and autoimmune responses of the body.
One must also note down that replenishing the natural gut flora on a daily basis is essential because antibiotics, stress, pollution, chemicals, and prescribed medication may destroy them. Sometimes, the bacteria are killed by stomach acid, and there are no possible benefits obtained from them. Considering all these possibilities, it is advised that one should always consult his/her doctor before consuming any of these supplements. If any serious symptoms develop after taking probiotics, one should seek medical help immediately.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.