The world health organization (WHO) guidelines for probiotics also stated that the health effects of probiotics are strain specific. This means that it is important to know the specific strain or specific type of bacteria or yeast which makes up the probiotic in order to determine its possible effects on a particular health condition. The WHO guidelines for evaluation of probiotics for food use starts with identifying the specific strains and continues with stringent safety assessments, genotyping and research studies. This is done in order to ensure safety and efficacy prior to distribution and consumption.
What are these living organisms exactly?
Probiotics are alive! They are bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health particularly your digestive system. Most of us think of bacteria as something that will cause infection and disease. However, our bodies are loaded with bacteria that is good and bad. Probiotics are good bacteria and yeasts that are used to keep your gut happy and healthy!
Research studies have demonstrated the benefits of probiotics for several diseases and conditions including obesity, weight gain and even metabolic issues like diabetes. They can also help decrease inflammation in your bowel that causes painful and debilitating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Probiotics can also help combat bad bacteria like Ecoli and certain strains provide anti bacterial effects in the gut by reducing the local pH. A recent study showed promising evidence that Salmonella-induced diarrhea, which is one of the commonest cause of childhood mortality in developing countries could be reduced by the use of probiotics. The strains involved in decreasing salmonella in these cases were Lactobacillus strains.
Without getting into too much detail, probiotics may have anti-inflammatory benefits. They have shown to decrease inflammation in joints and in the airways of cigarette smokers with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Further research must be performed in order to come up with the exact type, dosage and administration of probiotics, but studies are promising.
How do I know What Probiotics to Take?
Before taking any supplements or medications you should check with your physician. People with comprised immune systems may need to refrain from taking probiotics. There are thousands of probiotic supplements on the market. To ensure you receive optimal benefits from probiotics you should obtain as many strains as possible. The best way to do this is through your diet. Since different strains of probiotics effect different aspects of your health it is important to consume a variety of foods. Fermented foods and yogurt are primary sources. Below is a list of foods that contain a diversity of strains of good bacteria and yeasts. I have also included some benefits next to the particular food.
If you are unable to consume enough through your diet there are great supplements. Two that I usually recommend are Provella and Renew Life.
Made from different vegetables and spices such as cabbage, garlic, ginger and fish sauce. It ferments for a very long time causing growth of several different bacteria and yeasts. This can help fight inflammation and decrease blood pressure
Sauerkraut is basically shredded cabbage fermented in salted water. This sour tasting topping contains Lactobacillus Plantarum which is said to have anti-cancer benefits, treat IBS and lower cholesterol. I would recommend looking for the raw instead of pasteurized variety.
This is my favorite source of probiotics! I love the taste and texture. This is a fermented milk drink. It tastes like a yogurt smoothie, however, it has a more diverse range of microbes than yogurt does (usually around 10 different species of bugs compared to yogurt at 4 species). Kefir may have small amounts of carbonation and alcohol. It can be enjoyed plain or sweetened to taste. Kefir may help protect against inflammation in your gut, GI distress and constipation. Traditional kefir is prepared by combining fresh milk with the Kefir culture made up of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. The Kefir culture forms grain-like casein-polysaccharide-microorganism particles during fermentation. The exact combination of bacteria and yeasts vary between kefir cultures, and might include: Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp. Cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp. Diacetylactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. Cremoris, Lactobacillus kefyr, Klyveromyces marxianus var. Marxianus, and Saccaromyces unisporus.
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