Probiotics are living bacteria that are beneficial to the normal functioning of the human body. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between probiotics and bacteria that are naturally found in the body.
If you consume fermented foods such as cheese, yogurt, and pickled vegetables, then you probably have these good bacteria.
The idea of consuming a lot of good bacteria to promote good health has been there since the start of the 20th century.
A lot of research has been done and scientists have discovered numerous health benefits associated with probiotics.
As we speak, there are several types of probiotics available in the markets in the form of supplements and foods. More and more people have realized the benefits of good bacteria in the body and are constantly looking for the best probiotics to consume.
Benefits of Probiotics
Research has shown that probiotics have several health benefits to the human body. Some of the benefits include the following:
- They help in digestion: Probiotics help in balancing the good bacteria found in the digestive system. They have the ability to bring back the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. An imbalance means that there are more bad bacteria than good ones.
- Helps in preventing diarrhea: Probiotics are also known for their ability to treat or prevent diarrhea
- Probiotics help in easing vaginal infections
- Probiotic supplements are used to treat certain mental health conditions
- They can help in boosting the immune system
Different Types of Probiotics
Most bacteria types are categorized as probiotics. All of them have various benefits to different individuals. The most common species of edible bacteria emanate from two main species and are the most researched.
Common Species of Probiotics
This species is popularly used in supplements and foods. They are believed to boost our immune system, control the growth of bad bacteria in the intestine, and breaking down lactose into different nutrients for the body.
This is the species that generates lactase – an enzyme that’s responsible for breaking down milk or lactose. It is the same enzyme that produces lactic acid.
Common Strains of Probiotics
Probiotic strains can be described as subtypes of species. Every probiotic strain affects the body differently. You will always see the names of probiotic strains labeled on food supplements.
Below are the 6 commons probiotic strains:
- B. animalis: This is an ingredient found in the product of Dannon yogurt Activia. It aids digestion and boosts immunity
- B. breve: This strain is always found in the vagina and the digestive tract and fights bacteria that cause infections.
- B. lactis: This strain is found in raw milk
- B. longum: This strain lives in the human gastrointestinal tract and helps in breaking down carbohydrates.
- L. acidophilus: It is found in the vagina and small intestines
- L. reuteri: This strain is normally found in the mouth and in the intestines. Research shows that it helps in minimizing bacteria that cause oral decay.
In a nutshell, probiotics have numerous health benefits. Different types of probiotics have different effects on the body.