A concept that has gained great relevance in our society and health industry in the last decade is that of the probiotic. As it is a fairly new term that everyone is talking about, it is not clear what a probiotic is or what its benefits are for the human body. Are they harmless? Does it really have an effect on our body?
What is a probiotic?
To know what a probiotic is, we first need context. Many living bacteria, known as the intestinal microbiota, coexist in the human colon. Our microbiota plays a very important role in our body: it helps us digest nutrients that have not been previously digested, it synthesizes vitamins such as those of group B and vitamin K, it strengthens our defenses and helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the microbiota. This “intestinal flora” varies constantly; the balance between bacteria can be altered by diet, alcohol, food consumed, antibiotics, stress and aging, as well as by digestive disorders and diseases.
The word probiotic means “in favor of life.” Probiotics are live microorganisms (mainly yeasts and bacteria) that cause a benefit to the person who ingests them, improving their microbial intestinal balance, yes, always ingesting the adequate amount to obtain said benefit.
To be considered a probiotic, it must meet, at a minimum, the following requirements: they must be safe, effective, and must maintain their efficacy and effect until the end of the product’s useful life, that is, at the time it is administered, they must be live microorganisms.
The benefits of probiotics are numerous.
They participate in the prevention and treatment of digestive and liver diseases.
They also participate in the prevention and improvement of the symptoms of intestinal diseases such as diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and lactose malabsorption.
They help prevent obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
Strengthens the immune system of your body as it increases the production of defense cells.
They modulate the intestinal microbiota, promoting the balance of bacteria in the colon.
They synthesize nutrients such as vitamins and some amino acids and fatty acids with various benefits for our body.
Take advantage of undigested food: the microbiota is capable of breaking down those substances that the stomach or small intestine have not been able to.
They are also used as an assistant in the treatment of mastitis and atopic dermatitis. Not all probiotics are the same and have not shown efficacy in the same pathologies, so you should consult a doctor to use it as a treatment.
How to choose a good probiotic
There are two main ways to ingest probiotics: through eating foods with natural probiotics (such as yogurt), and/or through probiotic supplements. But pay attention! Not just any probiotic supplement works. Keep in mind that a correct description of a probiotic must include the following points on its label:
Specific name of the genus, species and probiotic strain.
It is preferable to choose a multi-species probiotic, that is, it contains specific groups of bacteria since they cooperate with each other.
Recommended storage conditions and their safety.
Indication of the recommended dose to obtain the beneficial effect and that the effect is also described.
Can everyone take probiotics?
Most probiotics are designed for the healthy population, and over the years it is considered a safe product since complications with its use in the general population are very few. Even so, it is necessary to take into account those people with immune compromise or who suffer from a basic disease, in this case it is better to restrict its use. As for children, there is no confirmed studies that they are totally effective, but to date probiotics have been shown to be safe.