Probiotics Benefits – Battling Illnesses With Bacteria?
When it comes to sickness, viruses, and diseases, many can easily point to invasive germs and bacteria as the blame for their conditions. In response, people turn to using antibacterial soaps, plan cleaning regimens, and taking multiple showers throughout the day to rid themselves of these bacteria. While this is healthy and common among the population, it may paint all bacteria as ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy,’ when it can actually help the human body.
In particular, when people hear about advertisements of the benefits of probiotics, they think of pharmaceutical and manmade medicines to prevent and kill all germs and bacteria in the body. However, using probiotics actually contains bacteria and germs to fight off a variety of illnesses and conditions. To battle false or misguided perspectives on these forms of bacteria, this article will answer popular questions many people ask about probiotics and its effect on the human body.
What Is The Purpose Of Probiotics?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics are microscopic living organisms, including bacteria and germs, found in human intestines. Unlike other strains, these bacteria benefit the human body, as they assist in consuming food, create vitamins, and kill disease-causing germs. Without probiotics, the human body cannot function optimally or protect itself from viruses or illnesses found within daily meals.
While research continues to this day, many scientists have discovered connections between the presence of probiotics in human bodies and the successes in preventing sickness. Some research about the effects of probiotics suggest the prevention of the following conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Allergic disorders
- Liver disease
- The common cold
How Old Are Probiotics?
Before the 20th Century, probiotics were commonly found within human nutrition to balance diet and digestive health. Foods that were fermented, including cheese, milk, and beer, were supposedly discovered on accident due to trading these products in high temperatures and low humidity. One of the earliest and popular form of probiotics is yogurt, which contains bacteria to regulate digestive conditions, including congestion and diarrhea.
During the early 1900s, Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff began researching bacteria and germs in the human body, including those found in the intestines. Through his research, the scientist discovered that humans can manipulate and grow healthy bacteria to fight off harmful sickness-causing bacteria.
Metchnikoff’s research even assisted against the shigellosis outbreak in 1917 when German professor, Alfred Nissle, discovered a strain of bacteria to battle the illness. Since these discoveries, research on probiotics benefits has grown well into today’s society and are still used to treat a variety of conditions.
The Popular Lactobacillus Bacteria
Found throughout the lower part of the human body, the ‘Lactobacillus’ bacteria are one of the most important strains of probiotics to assist with the digestive system. However, various strains from the Lactobacillus family are marketed towards different illnesses and diseases. The Lactobacillus Acidophilus, for example, has been commonly advertised to treat and prevent diarrhea. Lactobacillus Fermentum, on the other hand, is often sold by pharmacies to help regulate a digestive tract.
Excluding the popularity, Lactobacillus bacteria are reported to also have effects on the productivity of the human body. Depending on the condition or illness needed to be resolved, drug companies report that the Lactobacillus bacteria can also:
- Increase nutrient digestion
- Boost the immune system
- Protect the liver
- Support oral health
- Assist in vaginal well-being
Protection With Bifidobacterium
While popular probiotics are perceived to live in human intestines, especially the Lactobacillus family, the ‘Bifidobacterium’ bacteria also can thrive in the colon. This strain of probiotics is often marketed to prevent and protect people from diseases and illnesses found within their food. To stop the growth of harmful bacteria, the Bifidobacterium creates a highly acidic residue that will kill invaders but protect human organs.
This strain of probiotics also helps naturally occurring probiotics to repair and regrown after an illness or disease has infected the organs. In response to radiation therapy and antibiotics, doctors and pharmacists can recommend Bifidobacterium to promote the growth of healthy bacteria after physically exhaustive treatments.
Additional possibilities for recommendations of Bifidobacterium includes:
- Lung infections
- Traveler's diarrhea
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
How Safe Are Probiotics?
Even though there are plenty of naturally occurring probiotics available, visiting a doctor is recommended before purchasing any probiotic supplements. According to the National Center for Contemporary and Integral Health, many healthy people who use probiotics do not report any side effects. When there are side effects present, these are usually very mild on the digestive system and they manifest in the form of gas and bloating.
Severe side effects, however, can be found in people who are in critical conditions, including those with poor immune systems, post-surgery patients, and newborns suffering from illnesses. A common side effect for severely sick patients who take probiotics is high-risk infections of the organs. It is recommended for these patients to weigh possible side-effects with the benefits of the probiotics before proceeding any further with this treatment.
Furthermore, age could play into what kind of probiotics may be suitable for each person. The development of immune systems and overall health can impact the success of probiotics in conjunction with the age of the individual.
For example, if an infant requires probiotic treatment, different strains of the Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium are recommended to fight off a variety of conditions, including:
- Yeast infections
- Atopic eczema
The Bottom Line on Best Probiotics For Optimal Gut Health
Digestive illnesses and conditions are claimed to be alleviated through the use of probiotics, but every body can react to the probiotics differently. It truly is impossible to determine if probiotic supplements are required for the body, or if eating yogurt alone will suffice for most people.
It appears that there is much more research to be continued over the effectiveness of probiotics, although government organizations, such as the US Food and Drug Administration, are progressing to regulating and investigating new products.
As always, it is advised that you contact your doctor, physician, nutritionist, or other medical professional before purchasing any probiotic.