You are likely to come across various definitions of probiotics in different reading materials. However different the definitions may be, they all point towards the same thing; healthy bacteria. According to both Food Agricultural Organization and UN’s World Health Organization, probiotics are living healthy bacteria found in the body’s digestive tract. There are about 400 different types of probiotic bacteria within the body, with those in the digestive track working along with digestive enzymes in reducing the growth of harmful bacteria, thereby promoting a healthy digestive system. The harmless bacteria help maintain a healthy balance of organisms in the digestive system, including in the intestines.
Of all probiotics, the Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacterium are the most common. However, other types such as lactobacillus and acidophilus are important. Your body receives these healthy and vital bacteria when you consume dairy products such as fermented milk, probiotic yoghurt or soy yoghurt. Apart from these probiotic foods, certain yeasts also contain probiotic. Because you may be allergic to probiotic foods, your body may not receive these useful bacteria. You can however obtain the same by using probiotic supplements. These are probiotic formulations, which are safe for use, especially if you are allergic to probiotic foods. To make them easy for use, probiotics are available in capsule form.
Probiotic supplements capsule dosage varies greatly. Note that your digestive system is unique and therefore different from another person’s. Your dosage is therefore different. Because of this, it is important to start on a low dosage, taking one capsule in the morning and another in the evening. Continue with this dosage for a few days noting if you experience any allergic reactions or not. You may adjust the dosage upwards to three capsules daily for up to a week. Because children may not comfortably take probiotic supplements capsules, they may use probiotic powder, measured by teaspoon. Excess use of probiotics is however no recommended as such causes health problems.
The use of probiotic supplements are widely used across the world and form part of various foods and nutrition programs. They are also used in some medical facilities as part of treatment and management regimes.
Some of the conditions in which probiotic supplements are helpful include:
- Diarrhea – You can easily suffer diarrhea if while taking antibiotics or consuming food with harmful bacteria. Antibiotic medications are known to kill beneficial bacteria and by taking the supplements, you literally replace destroyed useful bacteria and prevent diarrhea.
- Cancer – Lactobacillus bacterium found in probiotic supplements has anti-mutagenic properties that help in fighting colon cancer.
- Cholesterol – Probiotic supplements have been studied and found to greatly lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Blood pressure – Studies and clinical trials conducted have shown positive effects of drinking fermented milk, enhancing the importance of supplements.
These are just some of the conditions in which probiotic supplements have showed positive effects on. Like other medications and supplements, you may experience side effects of probiotics, which include allergic reaction and weight gain amongst other side effects. These are however usually mild and should go away within hours.