Probiotics – Types of Probiotics, Health Benefits, Side effects

probiotics

The term “Probiotics” comes from Greek word Pro which means “promoting” and biotics which means “life”.According to world health organization(WHO), probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit.

These are the living microorganisms that boost our health when consumed in adequate amounts . These microorganism are the combination of fungi (including yeast), viruses and protozoa. These keep our Gastrointestinal system healthy. Probiotics can be found in yogurt or in other fermented food. The most common groups include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium which are used as probiotics. These are friendly, good, or healthy bacteria that keep our body healthy. These are also available as dietary supplement. Yakult is a delicious fermented milk drink that contains probiotic Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (lcS).

TYPES OF PROBIOTICS

Probiotics food or supplements comprises bacteria and yeasts. There are many types of probiotics and each has its own benefit. We will list the most common among all identified types:

Lactobacillus

It is the most common one which can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Lactobacillus has lots of different species. It produces lactase which is the enzyme that breaks down lactose. Lactobacillus bacteria are found naturally within our body without causing any disease.

Some of the lactobacilli used as probiotics are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarium, Lactobacillus reuteri etc.

Bifidobacterium

It is found in in the intestinal tract of breastfed infants and can also be found in some kinds of food. It supports the immune system and limit the expansion of harmful bacteria within intestine.

Some of the examples of bifidobacterium probiotics are Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium pseudolongum etc.

Saccharomyces boulardii

Also known as S. boulardii, this is the only found yeast probiotics. It can help in treating some kinds of diarrhea and other digestive problems. It assists in fighting disease-causing organisms present in the gut. Some reports show that intake of S. boulardii can prohibit the appearance of acne and it can also work as a barrier to side effects of some treatments.

Streptococcus thermophilus

It is also known as streptococcus salivarius subsp. It is powerful probiotic strain which is found effective in the prohibition of lactose intolerance.

Enterococcus faecium:

This is generally found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Intake of this type of probiotics has some benefit but also there are many side effects associated with it.

Leuconostoc

This gram-positive and heterofermentative bacteria are placed in the family of Leuconostocaceae. These are used in various food processing techniques.

Who needs probiotics

Probiotic intake is suggested to people:

  • with weak immune system, frequent respiratory infection and congestions.
  • with food or respiratory allergies
  • suffering from inflammatory bowel disorder, constipation, or intestinal infections.

How to take

Always choose a probiotic supplement with a minimum of 10 billion live organisms per dosage.

Avoid taking probiotics with chlorinated water.

It is best to consume probiotics in an empty stomach i.e. when stomach acid levels are lower.

Health benefits associated with probiotics

The main work of probiotics, or good bacteria, is to maintain a healthy balance in your body. Good bacteria keeps you healthy. It supports our immune function and controls inflammation. Probiotics create vitamins in your body. When you lose “good” bacteria in your body, for instance after you are taking antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them and thus can balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria to make your body work the way it should.

Probiotics are very beneficial for gut. When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out things that can damage it, such as harmful bacterias, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. Probiotics also absorb medications.

Probiotics can reduce the risk of various types of diarrhea like travel diarrhea. Probiotics strains such as lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus casei and the yeast saccharomyces boulardii are mostly associated with such prohibitions.

Probiotics supplements also work on to improve some mental health conditions. Strains like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus improve issues like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD), autism, and some memory issues. Reports says that taking probiotics for 8 weeks can help people with depression.

Probiotics reduces the amount of cholestrol in your body and also maintains blood pressure which keeps your heart healthy. Lactic Acid Bacteria(LAB) may lessen cholestrol by breaking down bile in the gut.

Probiotics strains reduces some severe conditions like certain allergy and eczema in infants and children. Some probiotics also prevent inflammatory responses in people with milk or dairy allergies.

Probiotics increases immunity and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. It also boosts the immune cells like the IgA-producing cells , T lymphocytes and natural killer cells. Probiotics minimize the risk of urinary tract infections(UTI) in women by almost 50 percent. Certain probiotics help to lower the body weight and belly fat.

Side-effects of probiotic intake

In general, probiotics are not harmful but side effects can occur. The most common problems that can happen due to probiotics are gas, bloating and diarrhea. But these issues can be resolved within few days or weeks after taking probiotics properly.

Probiotics hardly affect skin but some skin problems are also associated with intake of probiotics. Rashes and itchiness are some skin related problems that are very rarely caused by probiotics. If such things happen, stop taking the probiotics and consult your doctor for supplements that suits you.

There are chances of certain allergies that probiotics can cause. Before buying any probiotics fermented food and supplements, do check the ingredients that are listed in the product tags. In case any allergic ingredient is available, then don’t buy that product and ask a medical practitioner for right suggestions.


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Probiotics increases the probability of infections sometimes. If someone has serious illness or very weak immune system, then use of probiotics should be prohibited as it can cause bacterial and fungal infections. Kids are very prone to these kind of health conditions due to use of probiotics in case they have a weak immune system.

All such side effects can be avoided with proper consultation with doctors.

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