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Probiotics, Sources and Benefits

Probiotics are living yeasts and bacteria, the ‘good ones’ as the doctors will put it across to you. When taken in recommended doses, they will replace the bad diarrhea-causing microbes within your gut.  A growing body of research suggests that having a healthy colony of normal flora in our system is beneficial to health. That is where Probiotics have been suggested as a good supplement.

Natural & artificial sources of probiotics

Usually, any probiotic is not naturally occurring but is produced by the action of yeasts and bacteria on naturally found food sources. Several natural sources of probiotics are;

  • Yogurt
  • Curd
  • Kefir (fermented probiotic milk drink)
  • Sauerkraut & kimchi (finely shredded lactic acid fermented cabbage)
  • Tempeh (fermented soybean)
  • Miso (fermented soybean with koji fungus and salt)
  • Kombucha (fermented black or green tea)
  • Pickles
  • Buttermilk and
  • Natto (fermented soybean).

Supplements containing different probiotic combinations are prescribed by doctors and these primarily comprise the artificial probiotic sources manufactured industrially.

Most of us know the benefits of eating yogurt or curd. But are the benefits of probiotics limited only to our gut’s normal functioning or is there much more that they can help with?

Benefits of taking probiotics

Some of the primary benefits of probiotic intake are being discussed below.

  • Digestive benefits

The current use of probiotics in treating diarrheal conditions is proof enough of their digestive benefits and is the core reason for being widely used in digestive disorders worldwide.  They’re being used to help maintain the normal flora and integrity of the digestive system.  Several studies were done suggesting they help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics or infections. They have also been suggested for certain frustrating conditions like Irritable bowel disease.

  • Impact on mental health 

Several studies have been done that show the benefit of probiotics on mental health.

In one such study among many, researchers claim that probiotics seem to have potential anti-depressive effects in humans.

Another study was done to understand if the central nervous system-related findings of probiotics in animal models can be extended to human subjects.  Some of the probiotics containing B. longum, B. breve, L. helveticus and some others were found to be promising for treating anxiety, depression, mood, and even stress response in humans.

  • Probiotics for a healthy heart

Can probiotics make your heart healthy too? If you are doubtful, you need to look at a study that claims probiotics and prebiotics can have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system (CVS) by improving different cardiovascular marker levels in humans. Thus though they seem promising for coronary heart disease and stroke patients, further detailed studies are needed to find more in this regard.

  • Effective for inflammation and allergies

Allergies are too often assumed to be incurable. Apart from controlling the external triggers, there seems to be very little that can be done for them. But now, current claims say that allergies can be managed better internally. That the use of probiotics can decrease the symptoms and severity of diseases. However, a lot more studies are needed to clarify the role of probiotics in the management of allergies and inflammation.

Conclusion

Probiotics could be the next best all-rounder supplement for the next generation, we are yet to find out. But for now, healthy probiotics can help your gut and we all cannot deny, a healthy gut is the way to a perfect health.

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