Oct 05 , 2021
Gut to go for it!!
The human gut (large and small intestine) are a host to millions of varied species of microorganisms. (ewww!!.... but it’s really not as ugly as it seems.)
Some of this micro flora is unique to individuals, so much so that even identical twins have a different specification (strains) of these bacteria. Good bacteria in the gut help the body perform various important functions. When they are overpowered by bad or infecting bacteria, we see disease and illness.
What are Probiotics?
Pro means helpful or in favor of and biotic means relating to a living being. Thus, the word Probiotic means something that is helpful to a living being. Probiotics are microorganisms that help maintain the balance of good over bad bacteria in the gut, thereby preventing illness. They are responsible for digestion and absorption of vital nutrients from the food as it passes through the gut, production of essential nutrients etc.
Where will I find Probiotics?
Probiotics naturally occur in foods like yoghurt, soya milk, cheese, pickles, idli, dosa, dhokla batter, dark chocolate etc. Many food products (drinks and supplements) are fortified with Probiotics to improve their nutritional value. For eg: Upset stomach was a common occurrence for me as an overzealous, mischievous kid. Growing up, I couldn’t always turn to my parents to complain about my uncooperative gut, so my Nani was my home doctor. Curd rice and home-made lemon pickle was a time-tested remedy for my tummy. This is something I still follow when I have similar episodes and they never fail. Looks like Nani and Probiotics understood each other well.
How do Probiotics help us feel better?
It is important to understand how these micro organisms work inside our body and help us stay healthy.
- Probiotics help gut health by regulating the nerves that control their movement. This is important in the treatment of common disorders of the intestinal tract. Eg Diarrhea is sometimes cause by other microorganisms, parasites etc or as a side effect of certain antibiotics. Lactose intolerance is a common medical condition that leads to a host of allergic responses. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory disease etc. Surgery wherein some portion of the gut has to be removed can be some of the reasons where normal gastro intestinal functioning is disrupted. Treatment with Probiotics can help reduce discomfort and aid in better health.
- Research show that Probiotics have a positive influence on mental health. Ideal recommendation for adults is 10 to 20 billion colony forming units (CFU) per day. Yoghurt itself contains close to 80 to 100 million CFU/gm. Probiotics can benefit general health, relieve anxiety and stress and therefore play a role in elevating mood.