All that you need to know about Probiotics: An Easy guide

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, especially yeast or bacteria that are highly beneficial for your body’s digestive system. Our body is full of both kinds of bacteria, helpful and harmful and probiotics fall in the former category because they aid in keeping the gut healthy by improving or restoring the proper functioning of the gut bacteria.

In the body, bacteria outnumber the number of cells by a ratio of ten is to one. Out of these, gut bacteria help in providing different types of health benefits like loss of weight, better digestion, enhanced immunity of the body, better skin and reduces the risk of several diseases.

Something that you should always remember though is to not get probiotics confused with ‘prebiotics’. Prebiotics are simply dietary fibers that help in proper assimilation for feeding the gut bacteria.

Wherefrom to gather your probiotics?

Probiotics are part of supplements and some food items, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, buttermilk, natto, cheese. Other than dairy products, there are several other options of healthy probiotic foods as well. These include fermented soybeans and other vegetables. On the other hand, if you are unable to consume any of these foods, try taking probiotic supplements that are available right over the counter which are just as helpful.

Types of probiotics

As such, there are quite a few varieties of probiotics but here are the most common types:

-Lactobacillus: This is the most commonly used type of probiotic that’s found in yogurt and other fermented food supplements. It helps with curing diarrhea and enhancing digestion of lactose.

-Bifidobacterium: This microbe is also found in most dairy products and helps in curing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

-Saccharomyces: This yeast is also another probiotic that helps with fighting diarrhea and other digestive disorders.

How do the probiotics function?

Although the step-by-step functioning of the probiotics in the body is still a mystery and under active research by the scientists, it is known that they help restore the good bacteria population back in the body. This is especially helpful in case you lost gut flora recently, for instance, after taking antibiotics. In other words, probiotics help to balance out the population of good and bad bacteria in your body.

Did you know?

Many of the probiotics that come with food supplements are also components of milk and other dairy products. In that context, here is a list of dairy products that will turn out to be both beneficial and delicious for your family.

- Fermented milk, that is the basic ingredient for making various kinds of dairy products like yoghurt, koumiss, ergo, tarag, dahi, labneh, kurut and kefir. Fermented milk, in itself, is however made by treating milk with a number of different microbes to let it reach a certain desired level of acidity.

- Make your kids say ‘cheese’: Cheese, being among the most favorite dairy products among children or adults alike, is also rich in probiotics. It is mainly produced by coagulating the milk protein called casein that has been pre-separated from the whey. Cheeses may be of different types- hard, semi-hard, soft, hard ripened or even un-ripened. The different textures, flavors and colors of cheese are mostly due to the kind of milk used, the type of processing and even the nature of microbes that ferment.

- Weigh the chances of using whey in your diet. Whey is basically the liquid part of the milk that gets left behind after separating the curd while you’re making cheese. It’s used for preparing whey cheese and both whey and fermented drinks.

- Plain milk, of every type and requirement. For instance, there is low-fat milk that is creamy but not too rich in calories or fat-free which has low calories and light taste. There are also lactose free options, whole milk or even shelf-stable milk boxes. Consuming plain milk regularly is always an added advantage for your kids because of its steady supply of Calcium mineral and Vitamin D to the body. These enhance growth.

By now you must have understood why probiotics are a raging trend in the modern diet chart plans. They are prescribed by doctors and researchers for adults and kids alike, but the positive impacts of the same are more pronounced for the latter. However, before springing right into the action, it’s always advisable to consult your nutritionist.