Hi friends, happy Friday!
For a long while, all days were so similar but now I have again started loving the weekends. Why? Because of start of online-schooling. The precious extra hours of morning sleep is what makes the weekends special, again!
In my last post on sabja/basil seeds, I wrote that pectin found in them is a prebiotic and some of you messaged me telling I made a spelling mistake there. I sometimes do make a spelling mistake or other, especially on the more hectic days…but this time, it was not a mistake. What I meant was prebiotic indeed! But I do realize that I owe a big thank you to all those of you who read my blogs so closely 🙂
Most of us are probably already aware of the term “probiotic”, thanks to advertisements by many yogurt brands and fermented milk-based health drinks. The term isn’t very old but has become very popular recently.
Before we come to understanding the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, let’s understand probiotics first.
Probiotics are live microorganisms i.e. the bacteria that are found naturally in our body (mainly intestine) and help our body in breaking down the food. Also called gut-bacteria, friendly/healthy bacteria or gut-flora, these bacteria are mostly divided into two families: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Our body generally takes care of our gut-health on its own. However gut-flora can be disbalanced due to bad diet, infections, medications, hygiene habits etc. It becomes even more important to re-build a healthy balance in such cases.
Did You Know?
Our intestines contain 100 billion bacteria (of 1000 various kinds) and some of these are unique to each one of us, quite like our fingerprints!
- Probiotics helps in maintaining the healthy balance of friendly bacteria in our digestive system
- Not just physical health, some researches have shown that probiotic foods can improve some mental health disorders too such as depression, stress and anxiety etc. How? By producting serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. Wow!
- Boosts immune system and this reduce the severity or frequency of cold and certain allergies
- Prevents and even treats diarrhea
- Toxic removal from our bodies
- Better metabolism
Natural Sources Of Probiotics
There are many reasons why newborns are advised to be breastfed and probiotics are one of the main reasons! Breast milk is naturally rich in probiotics and sometimes, formula milk is fortified by the probiotics to get it closer to breastmilk.
Apart from occurring naturally in our bodies, certain foods such as yogurts (with live strains), tempeh (fermented soyabean), miso (Japanese seasoning with soyabeans as main ingredient), kefir (fermented milk drink), kimchi (fermented spicy Korean dish with cabbage or other veggies), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), pickles (or gherkins, are cucumbers pickled in salt and water), kombucha (fermented black/green tea drink) and certain cheeses etc are rich sources of probiotics.
On desi front – curd, regular yogurt, buttermilk, idli, dosa, kanji, achhar, dhokla etc though are not true probiotics as not standardized, provide many similar benefits.
And no, wine and beer, though fermented cannot be considered probiotics!
According to the official definition of probiotics by WHO, any strain or product can be classified as a probiotic only if it contains a stipulated amount of live microorganisms which are resistant to gastric juices etc to reach the target area successfully in our body and be of any actual benefit.
Probiotics are also sold as powder/liquid supplements such as Yakult as well as capsules or tablets. Some good quality multivitamins also include probiotics in their composition. Remember, not every yoghurt can be sold as a probiotic unless it clearly mentions the live culture it contains!
I have even been prescribed a urinary tract probiotic as a part of my UTI treatment once. And I am sure most of us have used, Enterogermina, Novogermina and the kinds, at one point or other…especially for our kids. Have you?
In The End
Before you start a probiotic supplement of any sort, make sure you are not allergic to the particular strain found in it. If someone is lactose-intolerant, a dairy-free probiotic is an obvious choice.
In general, probiotic supplements are considered safe. People on antibiotic medication can benefit from probiotics a lot as the antibiotics are prone to destroy the balance of gut-flora by killing healthy bacteria along with the bad ones.
If you have any pre-existing medical issues or any immunity-related condition, do check with your doctor/nutritionist, before you choose your probiotic.
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Till next Friday
Namaste, Health & Peace