The term ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œprobiotics’ refers to live micro organisms, which when consumed in sufficient quantities, can provide health benefits. In 1907, a Russian scientist proposed this idea where he believed that maintaining a healthy count of this ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œbacteria’ in the large intestine would lead to good health. However, it has taken more than a century for the idea to find acceptance. Today probiotics either in the form of medication or health drinks are commonly available and used. To understand it better, let’s look at the benefits of probiotics.
1. Improves digestion:
Probiotic bacteria are capable of breaking down food into its most basic element, namely, hydrocarbons. This ensures complete absorption of nutrients ensuring increase in cell growth and development. It also produces vital enzymes that enhance the availability of nutrients like vitamins B and K, lactase, calcium, and fatty acids. It also produces Lactoferrin, an iron-binding protein that is necessary for extracting iron from foods. Thus, probiotics help overcome deficiencies in iron assimilation. It also enhances nutrient bioavailability of zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, etc. Further, lactic acid bacteria are capable of converting lactose into lactic acid; this enables lactose intolerant people to tolerate lactose better.
2. Cleanses intestinal tract:
Probiotics help clean the intestinal tract. These bacteria attach themselves under the crud layer of the intestinal walls and removes accumulated decay. This is then removed from the body naturally. When the intestines become clogged with too much waste, the body uses the lungs and skin to eliminate toxins leading to bad breath and odor. By cleansing the intestines, it helps cure both bad breath and bad odor. Recent research has proved that by regulating intestinal transit time, probiotics improve constipation among the elderly.
3. Prevents colon cancer:
Several studies have concluded that probiotics, particularly acidophilus, enhances the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and decreases the conversion of bile into carcinogens, which are cancer causing substances. Some of the laboratory studies have found that some strains of the bacteria have anti-mutagenic effect because of their ability to bind with certain carcinogenic substances found in cooked meat. Also, some population studies have concluded that the rates of colon cancer are lesser among high consumers of fermented diary products.
4. Enhances immunity:
One of the major benefits of probiotics is its ability to boost the immune system by alleviating allergies, systemic candida, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It produces specific proteins called antigens that helps fight various diseases. It also stimulates B-lymphocytes and other related anti-bodies. These help protect the body against infections. It also kills viruses and parasites and relieves skin problems, fungal and yeast infections, and produces alpha-interferon, an essential regulator of the human immune response.
Probiotics work in sync with tissues and organ cells to metabolize proteins and eliminate toxins from the body.
6. Relieves diarrhea
Probiotic treatment is also capable of reducing the incidence and severity of antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD). This condition occurs, either due to alteration in metabolism due to antibiotic therapy, or due to an overgrowth of potentially pathogenic organisms. Pediatric research has also proved that some strains of the bacteria enable a significant reduction in the rate of acute diarrhea and rotavirus shedding. Parents have also implied a 25% decrease in diaper rashes for babies whose feeds included probiotics added formula. These bacteria also ensure that people with lactose tolerance and children with intestinal infection could still tolerate yoghurt.
7. Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure:
Studies have also shown a reduction in serum cholesterol levels, possibly by breaking down bile in the gut and preventing its reabsorption into the blood as cholesterol. Several smaller clinical studies have also shown that consumption of milk fermented with various strains of these bacteria help reduce blood pressure.
Thus, there is some truth in all the probiotic products that claim a healthy living. But as in all things, using it with caution and trying to use more natural probiotics can ensure a healthy stomach, healthy skin, and above all a healthy you.