Health and medicine

Truths and myths about probiotics

Truths and myths about probiotics
It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

Probiotics are gaining more and more supporters. And no wonder: we constantly hear about their benefits. However, we need to know when and how to use them in order for them to have a beneficial effect on our health.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms living in the digestive tract. Referred to as “good bacteria,” probiotics oversee the production of immune cells that circulate throughout the body, reaching as far as the respiratory system. Probiotics inhibit the growth of many pathogenic bacteria, preventing viral infections. They also help digest certain foods and are involved in the production of specific vitamins.

Probiotics include live cultures of bacteria and yeast, which are divided into strains. And here is an important note: only some of them will be helpful during the treatment of a specific ailment. It is a myth that all probiotics work the same. Their action is very targeted: one and the same strain can cure diarrhea in a small child, and at the same time will not work in the case of travelers’ diarrhea.

Probiotics are present in many fermented foods: yogurt, kefir, cheese, pickled vegetables, tempeh, natto, beer yeast. Many brands on the market also offer products enriched with probiotics. However, most often we reach for them in the form of pharmaceutical preparations when there is a risk of damage to the intestinal ecosystem. And this is when you need to find out which strain is responsible for what, in order to match the probiotic to the specific case.

Probiotics for the gut

Probiotics for intestinal bacterial flora are indicated for the following diseases and ailments: diarrhea of viral and bacterial origin, irritable bowel syndrome and as an adjunct to antibiotic therapy.

In the case of acute diarrhea in children and infants, the most beneficial effect on the intestines is shown by strains of lactobacilli: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Lactobacillus reuteri. Probiotics for children are designed to reduce the intensity and duration of diarrhea. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG will also work well for adults who have experienced traveler’s diarrhea.

In the case of irritable bowel syndrome, it is worth buying a preparation containing probiotic strains of lactic bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis and Lactobacillus plantarum, as well as the yeast strain Saccharomyces boulardii.

During and a few days after antibiotic therapy it is worth using probiotics containing the strain Saccharomyces boulardii. Antibiotics sterilize the bacterial flora of the gastrointestinal tract, which is why it is so important to give probiotics to adults and children when taking them.

Also read about facts and myths about drinking water!

Probiotics for adults

While probiotics for children are mainly used for diarrhea and antibiotic therapy, probiotics for adults also help ease stomach problems (Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) and speed up digestion. Some strains help prevent recurrence of particularly dangerous post-antibiotic diarrhea, while others again relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Probiotics during pregnancy

Probiotics can also prove helpful during pregnancy. Prophylactic use of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG during pregnancy may reduce the risk of allergies in future infants. It has been observed that babies born to women who take the probiotic two weeks before delivery are twice as likely to develop allergic reactions.

Main photo: Kindel Media/pexels.com

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