Probiotics help in Immunity
Probiotics are microorganisms like bacteria or yeast that are helpful in promoting digestive health. Lactic acid bacteria, bifidobacteria, yeasts like Saccharomyces boulardii are used extensively as probiotics.
Probiotics typically live in your gut and are nothing to worry about. Your body is naturally able to differentiate between healthy and harmless bacteria. A probiotic will improve the bacteria’s health in your gut. This helps to prevent harmful bacteria from infecting your digestive tract by crowding them out and prevent them from causing any symptoms.
Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt and found in other dairy products.
Other benefits of Probiotics:
- Probiotics help your gut crowd out bad bacteria by increasing good bacteria. This has been shown to reduce the duration of diarrhoea and the symptoms of lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome
- Probiotics are often encouraged during antibiotic treatment. When you take antibiotics all of your bacteria are destroyed both good and bad. If you take probiotics you can replace the good bacteria while still eliminating the bug that is making you sick
- Probiotics directly modulates the immune system and show positive effects in allergies with improvement in mild allergic diseases like atopic dermatitis and rhinitis
- Probiotics have been indirectly linked to improvement in disease like obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes
- A few studies have shown that certain strains of probiotic bacteria may prevent viral respiratory tract infections (common cold and influenza), alleviate complaints and/or shorten the duration of the disease.
- Probiotics help to strengthen the gut immunity as 80% of immunomodulatory effects linked with gut.
Prebiotics: A probiotic Food
Prebiotics is the term given to fibre that provides nourishment for the probiotic bacteria in your body. These will help the healthy bacteria in your body become stronger, and avoid any problems caused by harmful bacteria.
Prebiotics act as food for probiotic bacteria, helping healthy bacteria grow. Two of the most common prebiotics are inulin and oligofructose. These carbohydrates are found naturally in plant products but are also added to some foods.
Prebiotics are found in natural food sources such as chicory root, asparagus, onions and garlic, bananas, barley and other grains. Often prebiotics and probiotics are added to the same products. When used together we call them symbiotics because they work better together than apart.
Be sure to consult with your doctor before taking a probiotic supplement, especially if you have an impaired immune system.
As research behind diet and health has evolved, so has the concept of ‘functional foods’ become popular. The concept has now moved markedly towards digestive health. Probiotics and prebiotics are increasingly being added to food stuffs with claims of health benefits regarding digestive health and immunity.