What is Probiotics? - Discussion on Good Bacteria

Are you wondering what is probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gastrointestinal tract.

They are also called friendly flora (bacteria), and are available in the form of dairy products - yogurt, buttermilk and acidophilus; and fermented vegetables - sauerkraut and kim chi, which are both made with cabbage, as well as miso and tempeh fermented products of whole soybeans.

What is probiotics mode of function?

It is not known how these microorganisms work exactly, but there needs to be a balance of beneficial as well as harmful bacteria that live in the intestines, or health issues are more likely to arise. It is believed that the beneficial bacteria either replace or simply crowd the harmful out as their colonies pass through the system. However it happens, there are hundreds of different types of friendly flora that help in the endeavor to keep us healthy.

In learning what is probiotics, it would be interesting to know that some of the fermented probiotic foods date back to ancient times, while acidophilus came into practice around the turn of the 20th century. Interest has grown in popularity since that time, with American spending tripling on probiotic foods since 1994. Researchers are now studying their use as a means to boost the immune system, as well as furthering the research on promoting a healthy digestive system.

By eating foods with probiotics, we are able to increase the number of healthy bacteria in the system, which is particularly helpful during bouts of diarrhea, especially those brought on by antibiotics. Vaginal infections in women are also greatly helped, along with urinary tract infections and infections in the digestive tract.

What is probiotics other health benefits? Of the many proven and positive influences that probiotics do play in the gastrointestinal tract, assisting it in digestion is just a small part. Probiotics also aid in the absorption of minerals and other nutrients, the synthesis of vitamins, as well as building up a natural defense barrier against dietary carcinogens, antigens and toxins of all types.

Just by keeping things in balance, there is a general feeling of wellbeing; helping in the prevention and control of such conditions as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), colon cancer and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are added benefits.

While one question is what is probiotics, another question would be, what is prebiotics?

Probiotics are not to be confused with prebiotics, which are non-digestible foods and food ingredients that are able to stimulate the growth / activity of beneficial flora already present in the human intestines. In the system, when the two - probiotics and prebiotics - are able to mix, they form what is known as a symbiotic relationship.

Excellent sources of probiotics are yogurt with active cultures, buttermilk and acidophilus (all nutritional powerhouses of calcium and protein). Because the probiotics help digest the lactose, even those who have always been lactose intolerant are able to enjoy this great snack.

Fermented vegetables made with cabbage, called sauerkraut (mild) and kim chi (stronger and spiced), and fermented whole soybeans, which can be used as a solid (tempeh) and a sauce for everything from soups to casseroles, vegetables and various other dishes (miso), are also great ways to add probiotics to the system.

To learn more about what is probiotics and its health benefits, you may wish to read the other related probiotics articles and pages.

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