Do you know that the cells in your body are significantly outnumbered — 10 to 1 — by bacteria cells? There are roughly 10 trillion micro-organisms living in your intestines! But this huge number is perfectly fine as most of these bacteria are necessary for you to maintain good health.
From breaking down the food you eat every day and helping you digest it to protecting your body from harmful micro-organisms and pathogens, these “good” bacteria are what you need on a regular basis to stay in great shape at every step. Without such bacteria living in your gut, the chances of you having an efficient digestive system is pretty much non-existent. Here’s where you need probiotics as they boost the growth of these bacteria.
What Are Probiotics?
As functional components of food, probiotics are active cultures that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestine by changing or reintroducing new bacteria. Probiotics
Today, probiotics have been gaining a lot of attention as highly beneficial substances for your immunity and gut health. By promoting the development of healthy intestinal flora, probiotics are known to reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. They also shorten the duration of infectious diarrhea and are said to prevent few cancers and allergies. Some of the foods that are rich in probiotics are kefir, kimchi, tempeh, pickles, yogurt, miso soup, kombucha, sauerkraut, soft cheese, buttermilk, acidophilus milk, dark chocolate, and sourdough bread.2
How Do Probiotics Enhance Gut Health?
In case of an unwarranted inflammation, probiotics prevent the ill-effects
The lining of your small intestine is full of lymph nodes. When it’s needed, an inflammation in your intestines creates a pathway for your immune system to attack any invasive viruses or bacteria. However, an unnecessary inflammation can cause severe illnesses.
To ensure that your immune system functions well, maintaining good gut health is absolutely vital. The epithelial tissues in your intestines form a barrier against harmful microbes and pathogens. There’s no chance that this epithelial lining will regenerate if you have poor gut flora. In such a situation, taking probiotics can help you foster the survival of your intestinal epithelial cells while strengthening your cell barrier function and initiating protective responses from the epithelial layer.
You now know that some intestinal microbes can be linked to healthy intestinal flora. However, these microbes grow to produce organic acids and metabolic end products like lactic and acetic acid. These acids can possibly lower the pH of your intestinal contents, creating a supportive atmosphere for harmful bacteria to thrive. Taking probiotics can help you secrete antibacterial peptides
Do Probiotics Really Boost Immunity?
Recent studies show that probiotics play a significant role in boosting your body’s immune function and warding off harmful infections. Research also suggests that probiotics have the potential to be a barrier against microbial infections in humans and animals alike.4
In one study, probiotics were used to offer complete protection from viral infection in mice. Results showed that these good bacteria lengthened the survival rates of the infected mice from the pneumonia virus.5
Another ground-breaking study in New Zealand focused on 30 healthy professional rugby players as subjects. These players were given a probiotic supplement — 3 billion CFUs/day — or placebo for 4 weeks. It was found that 80 % of the subjects in the placebo group experienced a single episode of common cold or stomach upset at some point. More significantly, only 53% of the subjects in the probiotic group encountered such illnesses. Also, the duration of illness was 5.8 days in the placebo group and just 3.4 days in the probiotic group.
To sum things up, these studies show plenty of positives when it comes to your immune function, gut health, and your ability to fight off infections with a daily supplementation of probiotics.
|↑1||Probiotics. Pubmed Health.|
|↑2||FAQ’s About Probiotics. Probiotics.|
|↑3, ↑4||Shi, Lye Huey, Kunasundari Balakrishnan, Kokila Thiagarajah, Nor Ismaliza Mohd Ismail, and Ooi Shao Yin. “Beneficial Properties of Probiotics.” Tropical life sciences research 27, no. 2 (2016): 73.|
|↑5||Gabryszewski, Stanislaw J., Ofir Bachar, Kimberly D. Dyer, Caroline