What is a probiotic?
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms intended to maintain or enhance good bacteria (normal microbiota) in the body. Probiotics are foods (generally high in fibre) that act as nutrients for the human microbiota. Prebiotics are used to improve the balance of these microorganisms.
Probiotics are found in foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut, as well as whole grains, bananas, green leafy vegetables, onions, garlic, soybeans, and artichokes. Additionally, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some foods and are available as dietary supplements.
Side effects of probiotics are rare and most healthy adults can safely incorporate foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics into their diet. Future research may lead to advanced probiotics with greater potential for improving health.
Benefits of probiotics
Some of the diseases that we suffer today have their origin in the intestine and are caused by an imbalance of the intestinal flora.
Probiotics provide different benefits: they help digest certain foods, intervene in the synthesis of B vitamins, improve calcium absorption, help maintain the balance of the intestinal flora and vaginal flora, improve and regulate intestinal transit and, in general, they strengthen the
immune system. As our immune system is our shield from diseases and viruses, the benefits of probiotics may significantly improve your general health.
The most studied effects of probiotics refer to their effectiveness in treating certain digestive problems, especially diarrhoea. Probiotics have been shown to fight infectious diarrhoea, acute diarrhoea caused by rotavirus (gastroenteritis), or diarrhoea associated with taking
antibiotics, among others. There are certain indications about the use of probiotics to improve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.
Generally, probiotic foods and probiotic supplements are safe and tend to be well tolerated by most people who consume them, however, in case of people with a serious illness involving the immune system, the use of probiotics should be supervised by the doctor.
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