The 7 Virtues of Probiotics
Probiotics' main function is to balance the "good" and "bad" bacteria in the body. To maintain this balance, a conscious dietary regimen is necessary. Therefore, Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology Specialist Prof. Dr. Meltem Ergün highlights both natural sources of probiotics and the benefits of probiotics for the body.
In our bodies, trillions of bacteria live, especially in our intestines. These are good and bad bacteria. Their total weight is nearly 1.5 kilograms. For a healthy life, these bacteria must be in balance. In other words, if good bacteria decrease and bad ones increase, the body becomes susceptible to diseases. So, what are the benefits of probiotics? How can the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestines be increased? Is every probiotic supplement suitable for everyone? Here are the answers provided by Prof. Dr. Meltem Ergün, Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology Specialist at Yeditepe University Hospitals.
Proven by Research
Most of the benefits of probiotics, proven through scientific research, can be listed as follows:
Aids in food digestion: Probiotics can contribute to better digestion by increasing the production of certain digestive enzymes. They help maintain the balance in the digestive system and can reduce digestive problems, alleviating issues like constipation and diarrhea..
Prevents the proliferation of harmful bacteria: Probiotics can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, known as the stomach microbe, and may help prevent stomach ulcers.
Supports the absorption of vitamins: Some probiotics can assist in the more effective absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Strengthens the immune system: As a significant portion of the immune system cells are located in the intestines, regular consumption of probiotics can strengthen the immune system.
Beneficial for lactose intolerance: This problem arises when the small intestine doesn't produce enough of a digestive enzyme called lactase. Probiotics can aid in better digestion of lactose for individuals with lactase deficiency.
Aids in reducing inflammation in the body: Some probiotic strains can reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is at the core of many health issues, so it's believed that probiotics may play a role in combating inflammation.
Positively affects mental health: Studies exploring the relationship between gut health and mental health suggest that probiotics may contribute to reducing depression, anxiety, and stress.
What Are Natural Probiotics?
Probiotics are naturally found most abundantly in fermented foods such as pickles, pickle juice, vinegar, tarhana (a fermented soup), yogurt, kefir, turnip juice, and boza (a fermented beverage). Prebiotics, on the other hand, are the food for probiotics. They increase the numbers of beneficial bacteria. Dandelion leaves, Jerusalem artichokes, artichokes, leeks, garlic, onions, asparagus, broccoli, bananas, nuts, and wheat bran are the best sources of prebiotics.
Do Probiotic Supplements Work?
Probiotic supplements are used in the treatment of conditions such as food poisoning or diarrhea caused by various bacteria/viruses. After prolonged use of antibiotics, there can be instances of diarrhea due to disturbances in our gut flora, and in such cases, probiotics can be beneficial. However, random and excessive use of probiotics is quite common nowadays. Not every probiotic product is suitable for everyone. Diarrhea, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues should not be treated with probiotics without consulting a doctor. In the case of children, these supplements should only be given under a doctor's recommendation.
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