Not all types of bacteria are bad. In fact, certain bacteria actually posses many health benefits and are referred to as “good bacteria”. They are responsible for a number of functions including maintaining a healthy gut, absorb nutrients, digest food, and preventing the spread of diseases, so the importance of good bacteria cannot be overstated. Good bacteria living inside the body are known as ‘probiotics’.
Probiotics reside in different parts of our body including the Mouth, Vagina, Urinary tract, Skin, and Lungs. These good bacteria help function as defense against unhealthy or bad bacteria.
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Functions of Probiotics:
Probiotics have numerous different functions. Some of the major ones include the following:
- Strengthening our immune system and helping reduce our chances of falling sick
- Countering the effects of bad bacteria on health
- Creating vitamins
- Helping our body in the digestion of food
- Blocking the entry of bad bacteria in the blood stream by supporting the cells that line our gut
- Breaking down and absorbing medications
- Treating various different skin conditions including eczema, acne, rashes, rosacea, and psoriasis
- Treating Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Treating diarrhea including the one caused by antibiotics
- Treating tooth decay, gingivitis, as well as periodontitis
- Preventing heart diseases, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis
Sources of Probiotics:
Common probiotic bacteria can be found in a number of different foods including:
- Cheeses with live active cultures
- Sourdough bread
- Fermented Pickles
Common types of Probiotic Bacteria:
Lactobacillus is one of the good bacteria found in our body. These bacteria reside in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems. Lactobacillus is found in some fermented foods like yogurt. They are also are found in certain dietary supplements. Lactobacillus contains many different species.
⦁ Lactobacillus acidophilus: This is one of the most commonly used probiotics and is found in fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh as well as yogurt. The probiotic is used to treat bacterial infections of the vagina, as well as to prevent and treat diarrhea.
⦁ Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG: This can help in treating traveler’s diarrhea, diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacteria, or the one that may be caused by antibiotics in children. Lactobacillus rhamnousus GG is also used to help prevent eczema in infants.
⦁ Lactobacillus salivarius: This one helps block the growth of the bacteria that cause peptic ulcers known as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
⦁ Lactobacillus plantarum: This type of bacteria improves the immune system and hence prevents the invasion of disease-causing bacteria in the body.
In addition, lactobacillus has many other uses. Some of these include the prevention of colic in babies, lung infections in young children, diarrhea caused by antibiotics and infection, diarrhea in adults admitted in the hospital or receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Moreover, it is also used to treat bowel conditions like ulcerative colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Further illustrating the importance of good bacteria
Bifidobacteria are also good bacteria with many health benefits to human beings. They live in the gastrointestinal tract, vagina and mouth of humans.
Bifidobacteria consists of about 30 different variants including the following:
⦁ Bifidobacteria bifidum: This branch of probiotics can help protect against bad bacteria and relieve IBS symptoms.
⦁ Bifidobacteria infantis: Are believed to help ease the symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain, gas, as well as bloating
⦁ Bifidobacteria lactis: Improve cholesterol levels in women and in people with type 2 diabetes
Moreover, bifidobacteria is believed to help treat constipation as well as prevent airway infections.
These bacteria help in the production of the enzyme ‘lactase’. Lactase is required by the body in order to digest the sugar in milk as well as other dairy products. Researchers also believed that Streptococcus thermophilus can help in the prevention of lactose intolerance.
Tips and tricks to help proliferation of good bacteria:
Our boy naturally produces trillion of good bacteria, possessing countless health benefits. Simple steps that slightly alter our lifestyles can help proliferate their growth; a natural method of countering bad bacteria. Below are some basic tips and tricks.
- Getting sufficient sleep
- Eating foods rich in nutrients and vitamins such as vegetables, fruits, wholegrain etc
- Consumption more foods rich in probiotics
- Avoiding excessive use of antibiotics
While research suggests many health benefits of probiotics, it is essential to consult a nutritionist before adding anything new to your diet. Dietary supplements containing probiotics although generally considered safe, may result in side effects for certain people.
Hence, in case of any concerns please don’t forget to get an expert opinion. Book an appointment with the top Nutritionist in Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore through oladoc.com or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your health concerns.