Top 5 Proven Health Benefits of Probiotics

The Probiotic Foods are prepared by live Bacteria and Yeasts good for our digestion.

The term Probiotics conceived from both Latin and Greek word.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food- Hippocrates.

This quote is not a cliché anymore, despite advances in food and pharma technology for better health prospects. According to experts eating food close to nature is beneficial for optimal health.

New studies in nutrition for healthy eating have turned the table towards natural foods. The popularization of traditional foods is gaining momentum these days.

Among these, fermentation is an ancient, traditional and well-established process of food preparation.

Fermentation or Lacto-fermentation is a chemical reaction of food. It is a technique of food preservation. The process involves a breakdown of sugar and starch in food by natural bacteria that produce lactic acid. Thereby promotes a healthy gut.

Since ancient times, domestic as well as industries employ the practice of fermentation extensively. Due to its ability to transform one ingredient in too many forms.

For instance, milk into cheese, yogurt, buttermilk and soybean into miso, soy sauce, akhuni, and fermented soy beverage. Fermented food promotes good bacteria inside our gut which are now termed as probiotics.

Production and consumption of probiotics have seen unprecedented growth around the globe. It is also on the verge of innovative dynamics to not fall for any dietary rut.

History of Probiotics you should Know:

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Probiotics are often termed as functional foods, and the best way to avail this is through beneficial fermentation by good bacteria.

There are two ways to provide your gut with healthy probiotics.

  1. Through fermented foods and
  2. Through dietary supplements.

But here fermented foods have a little edge over supplements because fermented foods are easy to prepare and home-made.

Probiotic supplements are readily available in the market but, there are no guidelines set by FDA as it does for medicines.

All about Fermentation:

The oldest method of fermentation contains strains of good bacteria mainly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species proven for its therapeutic potential.

As functional foods probiotics are live microbial food supplement that improves intestinal gut microbiome hence improve digestion.

Understanding Microbiome:

A microbiota is a genetic material of the microbes. There are around trillions of microbes that inhabit on and inside a human body.

A microbiota comprises thousand of different types of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Research shows that microbiome boosts metabolism, enhances immunity, improves digestion and balances hormones.

The Microbiome and its presence:

A large portion of microbes resides in the gut or the gastrointestinal tract that balances microbial communities.

You get first exposed to the microbiome before birth in the birth canal that influences their gut microbiome on birth.

The microbiota community is responsible for gut health, immunity, heart health, good digestion and production of key metabolites that regulates human metabolism.

They form the most common genera in human colon and are considered key commensals in promoting host health by providing wide range of probiotic attributes and a host of other functional attributes.

Microbiome and its Functions:

The gut microbes or microbiota is involved in the production of enzymes that cannot be encoded by the human genome. Such as breakdown of polyphenols, cleavage of polysaccharides and synthesis of vitamins.

The Microbiota alters Metabolic Pathways of Dietary Intake as follows:

For Carbohydrates:

1. Short chain fatty acid (SCFA) is a metabolite formed during carbohydrate metabolism. It includes acetic, butyric and propionic acids obtained via fecal specimens. These metabolites are responsible for regulating metabolism.

For Protein:

Gut flora breaks down ingested dietary protein into short peptides, amino acids, short chain fatty acid. Also, gases like ammonia, hydrogen, carbon dioxide. Effective in the metabolism of essential and non-essential amino acids in humans.

For Vitamin Synthesis:

Gut microbes synthesize vitamin B, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, folate, thiamine, nicotinic acid, riboflavin and cyanocobalamine (vitamin B12).

  • 5 Health Benefits of Probiotics: Based on Research Studies

  1. Probiotics and Weight Loss:

    Probiotics aid in weight loss as they improve the barrier function of the gut mucosa. Studies show LAB (Lactic Acid Bacteria) and bifidobacteria with structural components and metabolites produced by microbial activity stimulate epithelial cells signaling pathways.
    Good bacteria strains in probiotics interact with bacteria that reside inside the gut. They alter their properties to affect the metabolic pathway involved in the regulation of fat metabolism.

  2. Probiotics and Digestion: 

    Lactobacillus acidophilus in yogurt improves digestion and immune function.
    Bifidobacterium longum blocks bad bacteria and yeast in the gut. Improves diarrhea caused due to infections and antibiotics.
    If you don’t like fermented foods you still can reap the health benefits of probiotics in supplements with doctor consultation. Look for live and active cultures with a range of 90 billion to 500 billion CFU (colony forming units) per serving.

  3. Probiotics and Cardiovascular Health: 

    L.acidophilus in yogurt increase HDL levels (good cholesterol) and decrease HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio. L. plantarum in supplements decreases serum LDL cholesterol levels. Trimethylamine (TMA) a gut metabolite is formed inside the gut when microbes feed on a chemical known as choline. Choline is a chemical nutrient found in foods of animal origin such as meat, poultry, eggs. Also present in small amount in the food of plant origin like chickpeas, split peas, cruciferous vegetables including spinach and asparagus). A study conducted by the American Heart Association proved that TMA gets converted to trimethylamine -N-oxide in the liver responsible for plaque formation in arteries. In the findings, high TMAO levels linked to about 60 % risk of cardiac disease.

  4. Probiotics and Blood Pressure: 

    Formation of short-chain fatty acids in the gut play a crucial role in lowering blood pressure numbers. By dilation and constriction of blood vessels, in a study conducted in mice.

  5. Probiotics and Cognitive Function:

    Studies show that probiotics improve mood and thus boost cognitive function. A recent focus on the gut-brain axis shows brain and gut are connected. The gut is now termed ‘second brain’ as it generates neurotransmitters like the brain does, for instance, dopamine and serotonin.

During situations of fear and flight, the brain sends a signal to the gut. That is why during the condition of fear and stress you feel a nervous stomach.

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