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Importance of Probiotic Foods in a Healthy Diet

Importance of Probiotic Foods in a Healthy Diet




Do you know, what are probiotic foods? How much they are beneficial for our health? When we need these types of foods?

Importance of Probiotic Foods
Benefits of Probiotic Foods

Ok! Cool. We will give you all the solutions and more information to satisfy your curiosity.

Bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms might not sound like the best things to be presented inside your body or in food. They heckle our health. You have been taught to stay clean and healthy by staying away from these microorganisms.

But wait. You are partially right, not completely. There are some forms of microorganisms that are actually present inside our body and foods, they are very good for our health. They are known as probiotics.

They are living organisms and provide several health benefits from digestion to a healthy heart, weight loss to stress management any many more.



What are Probiotics?


The word comes from Greek, where ‘pro’ means promoting and “biotic” means life. So, probiotics are those microorganisms that promoting our gut health with other various benefits.

Generally, probiotics meaning bacteria, some types of yeast (micro-organism) that maintain a healthy atmosphere in the gut. Almost hundreds of different types and billion in numbers of probiotics existed in the gut.

But, the most common are Lactobacillus sp. and Bifidobacterium sp. Each species has various strains. The colony of microorganisms in the gut is popular as gut flora or gut microbiome.

Importance of Probiotic Foods
The Gut flora

On the other hand, foods that contain a higher amount of these friendly microorganisms, known as probiotic foods. These foods can contain 1 million to 1 trillion live microbes per gram.

We can obtain these healthy foods from natural sources as well as supplements.

The natural sources are yogurt, buttermilk, soft cheese, fermented soy products (such as tofu, tempeh, miso, etc.), kombucha, kimchi, dill pickles, etc. Some of them are common probiotic foods in India.

Importance of Probiotic Foods
Probiotic Foods List

Some experts considered the gut flora as a ‘forgotten organ’ due to their significant metabolic activity. They liberate vitamins, such as vitamin-K, and some vitamin B.

They distribute throughout the body, however, mostly associated with our gut (stomach and intestines).



Difference Between Antibiotics and Probiotics


Do not be confused between antibiotics and probiotics. Antibiotics kill the infectious organisms inside our bodies when we are suffering from them. However, they also kill friendly bacteria.

Although, the probiotics themselves are friendly organisms present in different healthy food. They support gut flora (or, gut microbiome) and provide a number of health benefits.

These friendly organisms convert dietary fiber into short-chain fatty acids, such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate. These short-chain fatty acids provide nutrition to the cells of the gut wall as well as stimulate the immune system.



Benefits of Probiotic Foods


It is important to pay attention to probiotic foods because our gut flora is highly sensitive to our diet.

Any type of imbalance in the diet can cause numerous diseases, such as obesity, constipation, type-II diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s, even colorectal cancer.

Let’s know the several health benefits.


i. Probiotics Boost Digestion 

Probiotic foods have been known to be most helpful with gastrointestinal and digestive diseases.

In the case of constipation, diarrhea, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain, Crohn's disease, and flatulence, they play significant roles.

Importance of Probiotic Foods
Probiotics Improve Digestion

These foods are widely researched for their digestion boosting benefits and the result is promising.

Studies have found that consuming probiotic foods while using antibiotics, reduced the risk of antibiotic-related diarrhea by 60%.

These foods increase the number of friendly bacteria and maintain the natural balance in the microbiome of the gut by reducing the number of bad microbes, which cause infection and inflammation.

The friendly micro-organisms also extract important nutrients from our digestive tract leading to better digestion.

There some research has also shown that enhanced probiotics in the diet may help with lactose intolerance.

These foods may be effective in fighting off cancer-causing Helicobacter pylori.

So, you can take these foods or supplements in your daily diet for your healthy gut, and better digestion.


ii. Probiotics Enhance Immune System

Did you know that the majority of our immune system resides in our gut! The benefits of probiotics are quite popular in that case.

About 80% of the immune cells live in the gastrointestinal system.  So, when our regular diet is incorporated with these gut-supporting foods, we are arming our gut with more good bacteria to fight off the bad.

Importance of Probiotic Foods
Probiotic Foods Boost Immunity

According to the study, probiotics proved to be effective in reducing the amount of time took children and adults to recover from colds and flu.

That means they are able to reduce the amount of time you are sick.

Some probiotic foods are linked to promoting the production of natural antibiotics in the body.

They boost immunoglobulin A (IgA) producing cells, natural killer (NK) cells as well as T-lymphocytes.

Another study concluded that probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus GG may reduce the severity and frequency of respiratory infections by 17% in the children.

On the other hand, Lactobacillus crispatus reduced UTI (Urinary Tract Infections) by up to 50% in women.


iii. Probiotics Reduce Belly Fat

Are you suffering from excess body weight? Has your weight loss goal failed?

Don't worry! You need more probiotics in your daily diet to achieve the goals.

Probiotic foods can easily fill our satiety, giving signals to the brain, and letting it know that the stomach is full. This leads to reduced hunger as well as restricts overeating.

Importance of Probiotic Foods
Probiotics Reduce Belly Fats

On the other hand, these foods increase dietary fat excretion from the body through feces. It allows the body to use the existing fat stores for energy supply, instead of utilizing foods and leads to fat burning.

In 2010, a study of over 210 people with obesity, found that consumption of Lactobacillus gasseri daily for 12 weeks resulted in an 8.5% loss of belly fat. After stopped taking, they got back belly fat within 3-4 weeks.

The benefits of probiotics for weight loss are well researched. Evidence suggests that Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus promote weight loss and may prevent obesity.

Women who consumed L. rhamnosus for 3 months, lost more 45-50% weight than those who did not consume.

However, more study that needs to clarify the link between weight loss and probiotics.


iv. Improve Mental Health

It may sound weird that something which is so beneficial for the gut can be good for mental health as well.

A recent study found that probiotic foods are too important to our mental health and can reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and improve mental outlook.

Researchers have attributed this to the communication between the gut and the brain, which affects not only just physical but also mental health and behavior.

That means probiotics play a central role in the ‘gut-brain axis.

Another study found that these foods reduce depression, anger, hostility and self-blame and improved problem-solving ability.

100 gm probiotic yogurt per day consumption can experience benefits for the gut as well as mental health.

Supplementation is more effective than natural food sources in the case of mental health.

According to the experts, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium supplementation for 30-60 days can improve memory, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well as anxiety and depression.

To treat depression, probiotic supplements for 8 weeks reduce the level of C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) in the brain and decreased depression.

However, probiotic supplements should be taken on the advice of a physician, self-medication can be harmful.


v. Probiotics Keep Our Heart Healthy

Just like the gut-brain connection, there is a connection between the gut and the heart.

Probiotic foods keep our heart healthy by reducing blood pressure levels as well as lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

Importance of Probiotic Foods
Probiotics Improve Heart Health

High blood pressure is very common in the kind of lifestyle we maintain. It affects one individual in every three adults in the USA.

Studies have shown that an imbalance in the bacterial colony of the gut may lead to high blood pressure. So, eating foods that contain probiotics has been linked to lowering blood pressure.

On the other hand, lactic-acid producing micro-organisms break down bile in the gut, and reduce cholesterol also.

Another study shows that probiotic yogurt consumption for 3-8 weeks can reduce total cholesterol 4% followed by a 5% reduction of bad cholesterol.

Finally, it is concluded that probiotic foods have been shown to maintain a healthy heart.


vi. Impact on Skin Conditions

You might have heard the benefits of probiotic for things, like digestion, immunity, and mental health. But these foods can be beneficial for your skin also.

If you suffer from such skin problems, there is a big chance that your gut flora is altered to some extent.

Recently, the skincare world has embraced probiotics as the key to alleviating conditions, such as acne, eczema rashes, and healthy glowing skin.

According to a study, those pregnant mothers consumed probiotic foods during pregnancy, their children had an 83% lower chance of developing eczema.

Another research in 2013 found that Bifidobacterium infantis could beneficial for those suffering from psoriasis.   

Additionally, these miracle foods can help reduce visible signs of aging as well by building collagen to achieve a stronger skin structure.

They add smoothness to your appearance.


vii. Clean Teeth and Gums

A common mistake that can ruin our teeth might include skipping our diet of probiotic foods.

A recent study found that probiotics can reduce some strains of harmful bacteria that cause gum diseases.

These foods may help in decreasing cavities by neutralizing enamel destroying acid in the mouth. They also kill bad bacteria and reduce bad breath.



Side Effects of Probiotics


Probiotic foods are generally safe and well-tolerated for most people.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, these foods are safe for a healthy individual, but some bacterial strains may be risky to the people with the challenged immune systems.

Those people who suffer from compromised immunity, such as AIDS, cancer, other severe conditions, probiotic bacteria can lead to dangerous infections.

Additionally, the first few days of consumption may link to indigestion, such as gas, acidity, mild abdominal issues, etc.

So, Consult with a physician about probiotic side effects before consumption of these foods, or supplements, or both.

Importance of Probiotic Foods
probiotic Supplements

In the case of supplementation, the recommended doses range from 1 billion to 10 billion CFU* in a capsule, or powder form.


*CFU is a unit used in microbiology to measure the number of viable micro-organisms cells present in a sample.



Now, The Conclusion


Probiotic foods are important to maintaining the gut flora as well as better health. The friendly micro-organisms are also available in supplements as well as natural sources.

According to some health experts, probiotics reduce insulin resistance and helping to regulate blood sugar levels. But the research is under clinical trial. More study needs to conclude that.

However, supplements, and foods, both of which promote overall health and well-being. So, put them in your regular diet.

Always try to stick with natural food sources instead of supplements.

But don’t be confused between probiotics and prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food compounds that promote the growth, and activity of probiotic micro-organism. The most common prebiotics are dietary fibers.


Thank You.

We will wait for your valuable feedback. How did you incorporate probiotics into your regular diet? Let us know in the comment box.

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