1. PROBIOTIC FOODS
Probiotic foods are foods that host colonies of bacteria and fungi that are beneficial to digestion and overall health. Those foods that are allowed to go through an acid fermentation process before been made available for human consumption. When probiotics are eaten, they are colonized in the gut with these organisms, these foods contain the resources the bacteria need to survive once they reach the gut. It is the good bacteria in probiotic foods called lactobacillus acidophilus that aids in better digestion of food. The absence of good bacteria in the digestive system can lead to all kinds of health problems. Milk is essential to health but there are people who digest milk with some difficulties because they don’t have the good microorganisms to make the system tolerant of the milk’s lactose content.
Majority of these organisms live in the digestive system, but there are colonies all over the body, especially at every orifice. Probiotic foods contain many more strains of beneficial organisms than probiotic supplements do. There are many probiotic foods; organic yogurt, coconut milk yogurt, kefir, kambucha (a drink containing fermented fungus), miso (which comes in different types: soy, brown rice, barley, and garbanzo), sauerkraut, kimchi, natto (fermented soy), tempeh (fermented soy), and fermented vegetables. The advantage of these foods is that they are both a vehicle for beneficial bacteria, and are altered by the bacteria they contain, making them even healthier than they were before fermenting. These foods not only contain the bacteria needed, but also contain the resources the bacteria need to survive once they reach the gut. It is recommended that one eat a small portion of one to three probiotic foods a day. The function of bacteria is to protect against any invading bacteria, fungi or virus that is not part of the system. It is impossible to break down and utilise food without bacteria.
Some vitamins, especially vitamin B12, is compromised without this bacteria. Babies get their founding bacteria from a vaginal birth. Those babies born through a caesarian section miss out on this vital start to life. Mother’s milk contains a variety of beneficial bacteria which they will not get when formula fed. Babies will add to this healthy bacteria creation, by crawling around and putting things into their mouth. This opportunity occurs only once in life. Once a child starts to eat and create strong stomach acid, the opportunity is lost. Probiotic supplements tend to contain just two or three bacteria.
Yogurt is the best probiotic food. There are other sources of probiotics which include:
Like yogurt, kefir is rich in probiotics since it goes through the same fermentation process and combines animal milk and grains. It is mostly goat milk that is used for preparing kefir. Apart from the good bacteria lactobacilli, kefir has also been found to contain anti-oxidants that are good for the heart. Kefir is best when prepared through an organic process. Follow these steps to make water kefir (Ingredients: 1-2 litre (quart) glass/ceramic container with lid, 1 litre (2 pints) filtered/rain water, half a lemon, cut into pieces, 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses, 4 tablespoon sugar (use rapadura, palm sugar, brown sugar, etc, rather than white sugar), avoid the use of honey as it will kill the culture, quarter to half a cup of kefir grains (starter).
- Combine the ingredients. Depending on the ambient temperature, the culture will take 2 – 5 days to mature. The best range is within 18 – 28 oC (65 – 82F). Outside this temperature range, some microorganisms will die off.
- Taste the culture. When it is ready, it will not taste sweet. Rather it will have a slightly sour taste, with just a hint of sweetness. It may taste a little like wine. It should smell yeasty, earthy, fruity, vinegary and pleasant.
- o Strain the kefir, retaining the culture for the next hatch. It will remain dormant in a glass jar of water in the fridge for a considerable time.
- Bottle the kefir to allow fermentation, so release the cap periodically.
Sauerkraut is based on cabbage and other vegetables with similar texture. After it is cultured, the food preparation becomes enriched not only with probiotics but also with vitamins A, B, E and C such that p”opt” who eat them on a regular basis claim that sauerkraut also helps them fight some of the symptoms of certain allergies.
The dark chocolates have more probiotic contents than dairy products. However, it is beneficial only in terms of lactose tolerance when not eaten to excess. –
Edible seaweeds are the best form of microalgae that contains probiotics. Other sources are plants harvested from the ocean such as chorella and spirulina. Apart from lactobacilli, microalgae foods are also good sources of energy.
It is prepared from grain or beans and is usually used as main flavoring for soup. As a probiotic food, miso works to regulate our digestive system. Miso is packed with nutrition it also helps neutralize carcinogens before they can spread.
This is exclusively made from soy beans. lt is often used as a meat substitute, the same purpose of tofu. Vegetarians like to bake or saute the tempeh and eat it as their alternative source of protein that meat provides.
Made from cabbage, kimchi is however fermented to give it a sour and very spicy quality. Kimchi is among the best probiotic foods because it is also a source of other essential nutrients such as iron, calcium and vitamins A, B1 and B2.
This is unique as it is prepared neither dairy nor grain but tea leaves. Thus, one drinks rather than eat it. This tea becomes a probiotic agent when it is fermented. It has been proven that kombucha not only prevents digestive problems but also helps with weight loss.
2. BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
The benefits of probiotics are legendary. The health benefits of probiotics begin with the digestive system.
- For diarrhea, probiotics help to shorten the length of the illness, especially when the consumer is suffering from antibiotic diarrhea. Antibiotics are non-discriminating bacteria killers. They take out the good and the bad. So, many people begin to suffer from diarrhea as a result. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the effects by over 60%.
- The benefits of probiotics have also been shown to be effective in breaking up constipation issues. For those with irritable bowel syndrome, probiotics can help regulate the intestinal tract.
- They aid in digestion, and are involved in keeping harmful, and often inflammatory substances out of our bloodstream; substances that are behind auto-immune diseases.
- They also produce several of the B vitamins, and vitamin K (K2 specifically, which works synergistically with vitamin D3), which are essential to energy production, blood formation and function.
- Probiotics also suppress harmful bacteria in the gut, often responsible for diarrhea and other issues. They treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and colitis. They reduce ‘ inflammation and the severity of the illness. They also normalize the frequency of bowel movements.
- Beneficial probiotics help reduce sugar cravings and boost craving for healthy foods.
- They improve the microbial balance (good bacteria versus bad bacteria) in the intestine.
- They ease lactose intolerance. They help people digest and metabolize lactose. This is one of the main reasons why lactose intolerant individuals are encouraged to eat lactic acid
- They improve immune function and lower the risk of recurring infections.
- Probiotics have been shown to reduce colon inflammation after surgery. They help with viral respiratory infections since they boost the immune system functioning.
- It is also known to help with bad breath and body odor. Urinary tract infections can be reduced with regular intake of probiotics.
- Cholesterol and high blood pressure has been known to react positively to probiotics organisms.
- The yeast infection and the other infections of the unitary track could be cured by these.
- IBS is helped by probiotics.
- The recurrence of bladder cancer is reduced by taking these.
- -Eczema is prevented by probiotics foods in children.
3. WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics are living microorganisms (typically in the form of bacteria) that are similar to those found naturally in the human gut. They are often referred to as “good bacteria” because of the positive role they play in the process of digestion. Probiotics are often consumed to treat and prevent certain ailments and to promote good overall health and wellbeing. Probiotics can be found naturally in some foods or they can be taken as dietary supplements. Probiotics are consumed to prevent some diseases and to promote good overall health and wellbeing. Probiotic is a unique and innovative strain of natural medicine that has been found these days, and it has proven to be efficient in helping to deal with a number of stomach conditions. Probiotics were used in food and alcohol fermentation for centuries. They are applied for effective treatment of various health issues such as lactose intolerance, infection, skin allergies, food allergies, abdominal infection, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal tract problems, vaginitis, premature labor, and leaking gut. Taking probiotics in appropriate doses promotes a healthy digestive tract and immune system. They also opine that probiotics help in managing cholesterol level and hypertension level.
Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics (no digestible food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial microorganisms already in people’s colons). However, when probiotics and prebiotics are combined in one’s diet, together, their relationship is complementary.
4. PROBIOTICS SIDE EFFECTS
Probiotic side effects are usually very mild and do not last for an extended period of time.
- Digestive problems are linked with probiotic use.
- Gas and bloating occur most frequently since the bacteria growth and activity had increased. They produce gas as part of their cycle and its presence is one of the probiotic side effects. It can expel in the form of flatulence, belches, and burps. If combined with eating a probiotic rich diet, the amount of gas produced can escalate. However, once balance of bacteria is reached, these probiotic side effects will subside quickly.
- Other probiotic side are related to the digestive issues. Excessive drainage syndrome occurs if too much probiotics are introduced too quickly. This can cause the immune and digestive systems to kick into overdrive.
- The effects of probiotics are headaches, constipation, bloating and diarrhea. The condition can be alleviated by reducing the amount of probiotics being consumed. After a time, the amount can then be gradually increased. This allows time for the body to learn to deal with the probiotic effects of taking the bacteria.
- Some of the side effects are tenderness of muscles, pain in the muscles and body aches as well as fevers. It is also possible to get infections in the upper section of the respiratory tract.
- While the natural residence of probiotics is in the large intestines, due to their activities, menopausal women have been known to develop urinary tract infections and sometimes contract vaginitis.
- Fatigue is also reported to be a side effect.
- Allergic reaction may occur upon taking probiotics supplements.