PROBIOTICS 101: all you need to know about probiotics
They are on your hands, your mouth, your gut, your brain, and your head. They are everywhere! As you might have guessed, we are talking about microbes. The human body consists of about 10^13 cells and routinely harbors about 10^14 bacterial cells.
The bacterial population consists of our normal microbial flora. The microbes of the normal bacterial flora can aid the host by competing for the microenvironment of our body in a better way than the pathogenic microbial species or by producing nutrients that are useful to the host. These bacteria live in a symbiotic relationship with the host and are called good bacteria. Other microbes live in the host for long periods without causing any detectable harm or benefit to the host and these microbes are called commensals. And some microbes cause damage and disease to the host they live in, which are pathogens.
What Are Probiotics?
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as "live microorganisms" which, when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics are what we call "good bacteria." Probiotics preparations consist of mostly bacteria of genera Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Escherichia, Enterococcus, Bacillus, and Streptococcus. Though some fungal strains belonging to Saccharomyces are also used in some preparations.
Probiotics of various kinds have also been shown to be effective in varied clinical conditions ranging from infantile diarrhea, necrotizing enterocolitis, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, relapsing Clostridium difficle colitis, Helicobacter pylori infections, inflammatory bowel disease, female urogenital infection, and surgical infections. Foods that are good sources of lactic acid-producing bacteria (probiotics) include fermented milk, cheeses, fruit juices, wine, sausages, kimchi, etc. Though they can also be obtained from probiotic supplements.
Also, probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics, which are non-digestible food ingredients that benefit the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of a particular bacterium or a group of bacteria in the colon, thus improving the health of the consumer.
Importance Of Probiotics For GI Health: