Probiotics: Health benefits, mechanisms and sources

 What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms that when consumed in an adequate amount (108 CFU/ml), show some health benefits especially improved digestive health.



        Our natural gut microflora has a number of functions such as it balances homeostasis, provides non-essential amino acids, and vit. B, maintains bowel movements and regulates the immune system.

With the increase in age and some other factors such as consumption of alcohol, antibiotic use, bad dietary habits, and infections, gut microflora starts depleting. As the number of microbes in the gut decreases, this condition is called dysbiosis and dysregulation.

How do they work?

The mechanism by which probiotics work has gained little or no interest. There could be more than one mechanism for explaining the working of the probiotics.

Main mechanisms are:

  • Competitive exclusion of pathogen and Bacteriocin Production
"Good Bacteria" competes with the "Bad Bacteria" for nutrition and colonization. Production of bacteriocin is also going to inhibit the bad bacteria.
  • Cell adhesion and Mucin production
This is going to promote the adhesion of the good bacteria to the intestine.
  • Modulation of the immune system 
  • Production of neurotransmitters

Some common probiotic strains are


Health Benefits associated with the consumption of probiotics:

  • Improves the digestive health
  • Have anti-diabetic acivity
  • Have anti-obesity activity
  • Improves the mental health
  • Effective against certain allergies
  • Have anti-cancer properties
  • Have anti-inflammatory activity
  • Have anti oxidanr properties

Probiotics rich Foods:

Majority of the fermented foods are rich in probiotics.
  
Yoghurt




Sourdough



Saurkraut


 
Cheese



Some other foods such as kefir, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and more.
Probiotics are also available in the form of supplements such as tablets, capsules, and drinks.

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