Probiotics are still quite a new subject for people, and are poorly understood. What exactly are probiotics? Well, think of them as the proactive counterpart of anti-biotics. Antibiotics provide your body what it needs in order to fight off a virus or a disease, as you take them when you are sick. Probiotics aren’t there to cure a disease; instead they provide your body with what it needs to be healthier.
Probiotics contain live bacteria that are good for you. This is another thing which confuses many people. Most of us think of bacteria as a bad thing, we even use anti-bacterial products to wash our hands and be cleaner. Then why would we ever want something that introduces more bacteria in our body? Well, the answer may surprise you.
Your gut contains bacteria – a LOT of bacteria. And no, you do not need to worry about it or get it cured, because the bacteria are helpful for you. The bacterium in our gut helps us digest and absorb nutrients. Another interesting thing is that we aren’t born with these bacteria inside us. New-born babies take some time to ‘collect’ and develop bacteria cultures inside of them, which is why we have to be so cautious about their diets. Once we have the right bacteria in us it helps us digest things quickly, and it also fights infections and harmful things which we may have ingested.
Probiotics contain the good type of bacteria – the bacteria that make your digestive system run better, and the bacteria that improves your immunity to harmful substances. This is also the principle difference between supplements and probiotics; supplements contain nutrients for your body, while probiotics contain live cultures that are helpful to your body.
Bacteria are naturally found all over your digestive system. It is present in your stomach, intestines, lining of the digestive tract, and colon. Did you know that more than eighty percent of your immune system is located within your digestive system? That is where the probiotics help you as well.
How Probiotics Work
Probiotics provide more of the beneficial bacteria to your body, allowing it to perform even better. The bacteria is not produced naturally by your body in any way, it is taken from the environment and your diet. The problem is that our environment and our diet are often less than ideal. We live in a world where there is a lot of pollution in the air. There is also a lot of harmful stuff in the food we consume. These two factors combine and create an environment where the bacteria in our gut are no longer just beneficial.
An important thing to note here is that it is impossible to completely eliminate all harmful bacteria. Anything that is anti-bacterial will end up killing the beneficial bacteria as well, which will lead to a lot of problems for you. This is why doctors talk about gut balance. The quantity of the beneficial bacteria must be significantly higher than the quantity of the harmful bacteria to ensure that your digestive system works right. This is why there are many people whose digestive systems work perfectly even though they don’t do anything, while on the other hand some people get sick if they eat anything unusual.
There are many ways you can fix your gut’s balance. You can move to a place which has better air and less pollution. You can also completely change your diet and only eat things that are fresh and organic. The problem is that both of these solutions are very impractical for most people. We all have families, jobs, friends – we can’t just move to someplace else. We also cannot completely change our diet and make fresh food every time we eat. Sometimes we eat out, sometimes we eat something at the office, sometimes we go out eating with friends. It is very hard to completely change our lifestyles.
This is where Probiotics come in. Instead of having to change each and every thing about you, you can now directly get the beneficial bacteria that your gut needs to perform at its best. This is also important when you are taking anti-biotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately – the helpful kind and the harmful kind. So once you have completed an antibiotic course you can start taking probiotics to make sure that your body has the bacteria in it that it needs.
How taking probiotics helps
Probiotics have a profound effect on your system. They work on your digestive system, which ends up affecting each and every part of your body. Think about it. Your heart, your skin, your joint – each and every nutrient your body needs, is provided through what you eat, and all of the work for that is done in your digestive system. Thus if your digestive system is working properly, it will result in your body getting just what it needs. On the other hand if your digestive system is not doing a good job of extracting the beneficial items from the food you eat and expelling the harmful substances, your whole body will suffer. Let’s look at some of the benefits of probiotics.
Probiotics improve your immunity levels
Your immune system keeps you healthy. Without your immune system people suffer, which is why diseases that compromise your immune system are so horrible. There are a lot of things all round us that can cause us harm, but they do not because our system is working 24/7 to keep us safe. When there is too much harmful bacteria in you, a lot of your immune system is busy fighting the harmful bacteria. Once the amount of beneficial bacteria increases, your immune system is free to fight external threats, which makes you less likely to be sick.
If you have frequent digestion related problems, you need probiotics. Frequent digestive problems are a sign that there is something wrong with your digestive system. Probiotics spread all over your digestive system and improve its efficiency. You’ll find that you tend to fall sick much lesser. You will not feel constipated, bloated, nor have other digestion related problems as soon as you used to have.
Makes Your Skin Look Better
Once you start taking probiotics you will notice that you look much better. No, it isn’t just in your head. The probiotics allow your digestive system to extract nutrients at a much higher rate, which allows your skin to get the nutrients it needs in a higher quantity. This is why people who take probiotics often have skin that has a glowing and nourished look.
There is another factor as well; since your immune system is now working in a much better way than before, you will also have fewer skin related troubles. This means that things like allergies and eczema will find it much harder to make your body their host, which will make your skin healthier.
FoodsThat Are Probiotic-Rich
There is a reason that people who live in rural areas seem to have such glowing skin and are much healthier than us city folk. The food they eat is natural and their diets are also much more diverse than us. Instead of eating cheeseburgers and drinking sodas, these people have a diet that contains many vegetables and natural ingredients. You can also focus on foods that provide you a lot of probiotics if you want to improve your health.
It isn’t just about the ingredients either – modern farming is done with a lot of pest control substances, which strips away a lot of the nutrition and probiotics naturally present in the vegetables you eat.
Here are some of the beneficial strains of bacteria you will find in foods:
Casei, johnsonii, reuteri, Lactobacillus acidophilus, bulgaricus, infantis, Streptococcus thermophiles, Bifidobacterium lactis, longum, breve
Want to know how to create a diet rich in probiotics? Focus on the following foods:
- Miso Soup
Wonder what all that bacteria in your gut is up to? Well, here are some of the actions they take:
The bacteria in your gut break down the food you eat into essential components. Your body cannot directly use the foods, just the nutrients found in the food. The bacteria in your gut munches on the vegetables, meats, and grains that you eat and breaks them down into their most minute components, which are then absorbed by your body.
Another important function of the gut bacteria is to make sure that the pH level is right. This helps ensur that your bowel movements are regular.
The bacteria also ensure that you aren’t too gaseous, and they ensure that your breath smells good. When the bacterium isn’t working properly, the food you eat is not being broken down properly by your gut, which is in turn resulting in a weird smell coming out of your throat. A healthy gut bacterium breaks down the food properly and eliminates this smell.
How to Use Probiotics
The most important thing, when it comes to probiotics, is consistency. You are supposed to take probiotics regularly. Remember, probiotics help you close the gap between what your body needs and what your environment and diet is able to provide it. That is why probiotics aren’t something that you just take for a few days, they are supplements that you take as long as you want to receive their benefits. The good thing is that probiotics are very affordable, and you should be able to take them just like people take supplements every day.
Almost all probiotics are capsules or tablets, though you may find some that you have to prepare to take as well. The type of probiotics you get depends on your own preferences. When buying probiotics just ensure that you buy them from companies that are worth your time. There are companies that will have no problem ripping you off, and then there are companies that spend a lot of time and money researching to make sure you get the best probiotics. Make sure your probiotics are made by the latter rather than the former. Probiotics don’t have side effects either – they just increase something beneficial that is already in your body, thus it is highly unlikely for there to be a bad reaction to them.