Myths and Truths about Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast that are highly beneficial for our body especially the digestive system. People often view bacteria as diseases causing agents, but actual some of them are excellently helpful for our healthy body. The Micro-organisms even outnumber the body cells with ten by 1. The human body has some bacteria present in the digestive tract that helps in digestion of food and destroys the disease-causing micro-organisms present in the digestive system. Probiotics are good or healthy bacteria that are artificially ingested into the body through food(such as yogurt), dietary supplements etc.

The term probiotics were first coined by Elie Metchnikoff in 1980 who viewed that yogurt consuming Bulgarian citizens lived longer on microbes. Probiotics are also found in our food in forms of yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sour pickles, dairy products etc. Probiotics contain many micro-organisms but they are broadly categorized into two groups. These are as follows:

Lactobacillus: This is the most common probiotic. It contains 18 micro-organisms that inhabit mainly intestines. It is the found in yogurt, and other fermented products. Different strains are helpful in patients with diarrhea or other gastrointestinal ailments. It also helps to people in digesting sucrose, the sugar found in milk.

Bifidobacterium:  It contains eight micro-organisms that live in the colon. This probiotic brings relief to the people by easing the symptoms of IBS(Irregular bowel system). It is found in dairy products. Probiotics not only helps in food digestion, but also benefits our body in many ways.

Digestive Health

Probiotics assist in moving food to our guts. The digestive tract contains more than 1000 thousand bacteria that break the food to digest and absorbs the nutrients. These relieve the symptoms of IBS(Irregular bowel syndrome) that causes extreme abdominal pains, cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal ailments. When a person takes excessive antibiotics that are designed to kill harmful and destructive microorganisms, that eventually also kills healthy bacteria resulting in gastrointestinal infections. About 30% people report suffering from diarrhea and other ailments after consuming antibiotics. Therefore, doctors usually prescribe probiotics to repopulate the healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.

Uritract Infections

Probiotics give an excellent complement to antibiotics in people who suffer from urinary tract infections as per the research. Many antibiotics are prescribed that eradicate yeast causing urinary tract diseases mainly in women.

Allergies

Probiotics treat certain allergies caused by various allergic agents i.e.micro-organisms. It helps in fighting allergies like eczema, fungus infections, bronchitis, rashes, urinary bladder infections, etc.

Immune System

Research have shown probiotics have stimulated an immune response in people. By taking a good number of probiotics in food and maintain a correct level of intestinal bacteria the immune system has been improved. The helpful microorganisms kill the destructive bacteria from diseases, therefore making the immune system stronger.

Obesity

In 2006, the Stanford University found that obese have different gut bacteria that normal weighted people, which indicates that intestinal flora plays an important role in obesity. Some preliminary research shows that individuals who had gone weight loss surgeries can maintain their weight by the regular intake of probiotics.

Myths About Probiotics

There is a big misconception regarding the choice of probiotics in the people. These issues are due to the strange behavior of individuals towards probiotics which has created many confusions in the minds of people. There is a vast array of food supplements, dairy products that promise various health benefits. But in reality the manufacturers are only advertising their probiotic supplements without approving the various bacteria that are claimed to treat digestive illness and health issues. So, now it has become involved in making a right choice of probiotics. The manufacturers cheat their customers by spreading various myths in people. There are many unanswered questions of probiotics for which the science is still looking and researchers are slowly emerging. The common questions puzzling the minds of individuals are what are the health benefits of probiotics, how they work, which bacteria in probiotic is used for which health illness.

Some common myths about people are given below.

1. All probiotic supplements are primarily the same

There is a misconception in people that every probiotic supplement available in markets could be used to treat a similar type of digestive illness in all individuals. But it is not true, as we already know there are more than thousands of bacteria or yeasts living in our gastrointestinal tract and hundreds of different strains of good bacteria as well. Therefore, it ‘s hard to tell exactly which probiotic strain in suitable for our body as it various from one person to the other. The probiotics that are ideal for you might not be ideal for your neighbor, as different people have a different body which has different strains of healthy bacteria. So many people take combination probiotic formulas instead of taking conjunction with one or two separate strains of probiotic.

2. All probiotics need to be refrigerated

People are still confused in the refrigeration of probiotics. There is a common myth in people that if probiotics are not refrigerated it would lead to the death of the microorganisms present and the need of refrigeration various from product to product. It is important to read the label that contains whether or not the product is to be refrigerated. It is a simple rule, if the label says yes, then it is required, else don’t. About twenty years ago people believed, if probiotics are not refrigerated then micro-organisms will die. Now technologies have developed that allows the bacteria in supplements to stay stable even at room temperatures and there is no need to put them in refrigeration. Although the old beliefs are still so prevalent that until now some companies still continue to manufacture probiotics that need refrigeration perpetuating the myth. There is a simple solution to the problem that people should read the labels of supplements carefully and then go for cooling if needed.

3. Food and supplement label provide accurate microbes count

The food labels do not always provide the exact number of bacteria in the supplement. In many supplement labels, it was found written just “live bacteria” instead of providing the exact count of cultures or microbes. They fool people by not listing the exact ingredients in the product. The ingredient list provides more information about the microbes in the food product, their genus and species name. Research have found that many probiotic food products have misled people by giving wrong information of microbe count. It is suggested that high-quality supplement should be purchased from afro reputed manufacturers, as they provide the reliable count of microbes, the genus and species. A study done in 2013 have shown that the microbes found in the tested samples of the supplement are fewer than listed microbes count on the supplement label, showing 56-60 percent less in microbes count in the food product.

4. Most yogurt is a god soured of probiotics

There is a wide misconception that yogurts provide essential probiotics required for our healthy digestive tract. It is important first to see that yogurts that we consume should not contain high added sugar content and lack in essential probiotics needed for our healthy body. It is a misbelief that all the yogurts contain the essential probiotics, so it is a waste by consuming probiotic supplements from the market. Eating few cups of yogurts daily does not provide the necessary amount of probiotics for the assurance of a healthy digestive tract. On the contrary, daily intake of probiotic supplements available in market delivers a high concentration of probiotics.

5. Probiotics help to prevent cold

There is misbelieve in people that intake of probiotics supplement helps in preventing cold. Studies have shown that probiotics provide strength to the immune system as healthy microorganisms kill the disease-causing bacteria in the body. But still scientific studies are going to discover the ways by which the helpful gut bacteria restores healthy and stronger immune system. There is no actual evidence that probiotics are beneficial in keeping cold and flu symptoms away from us and ensuring a healthy body.

Truths behind probiotics

We have already seen that around 70% of body’s natural defenses is found in our gut. The natural defense against deadly microorganisms is provided by live and good bacteria known as probiotics. These helpful probiotics are found in our food, in yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sour pickles etc. these food products contain only limited essential microbes and fall short in providing all the helpful bacteria needed by our gut. Thus, the best solution to it is probiotics supplements that come in a combination formula that supplies all essential microbes. Here, is some fascinating truth behind the probiotics.

1. Not all bacteria is created equally

The digestive tract of our body contains trillions of microbes that outnumber the body cells ten by 1. The helpful microbes are present in different strains that various from one person to other. The good microbes push and break the food into the gut thereby absorbing the nutrients. This is the major reason why different people have a different activity of the digestive system.

2. These are alive

These biennial bacteria present in our guts are living. They play a vital role in fighting curtains infections involving the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract and the skin. They neutralize the acidity of the stomach and strengthen the immunity system of the body. The excess intake of antibiotics kills even the good bacteria present in the digestive tract.

3. These are brimming in our guts

The average human has 2-4 pounds of bacteria in his body. Within every person is a flourishing colony of both dreadful and useful bacteria. Some are present in our digestive tract and others found elsewhere in mouth, throat, skin. And performs functions like breaking of food, absorbing nutrients, neutralizing acidities.

4. They have tremendous benefits

We are not unaware of the enormous advantages of the probiotics. Not only it improves digestion but also has an extensive list of other benefits. These are to treat infections of the digestive tract, urinary tract, skin, etc. It relieves the symptoms of IBS(Irregular bowel syndrome), reduces cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, etc. It also strengthens body immunity system, fights obesity, allergies, etc.

5. Beware of probiotic imposters

The probiotic imposters mislead the people by just inscribing labels stating “live or active cultures”. The manufacturers do not list the ingredients that contain the genus or species of healthy microbes present in probiotics. So, the National Yogurt Association established a seal that is easy to identify on supplements label that ensures highest standards of probiotic supplement. Therefore, it is necessary to recheck the supplements label before taking any combination probiotic formulas.

6. Probiotic supplements undergo harmful processes

The probiotics supplements undergo chemical and heating process that sometimes kills the healthy microbes. The methods involve the concentration of bacteria mass. This is done through two main treatments. One is centrifugation and other is ultrafiltration. In centrifugation, both bacteria and its biofilm are destroyed when the switch hits the wall through the bacterial community against the sides of the centrifugal wall with incredible force. In the process, the bacteria cell wall is ruptured, therefore killing a large number of active cultures. The ultrafiltration is less harmful, as compared to the previous one. In this process bacteria is put in giant strains that damage some bacteria, but their cell wall remains intact.

7. Caused damage to the body through enteric coating capsule

The probiotics supplements come in the form of enteric-coated tablets that are typically made of synthetic material that causes intense damage to the human body, thereby increases significant risk of deadly diseases, such as nervous system damage, memory loss, cancer, etc. The heating technology involved in the manufacturing process also kills the helpful active microbes in the supplement. When these probiotic pills are taken, the active cultures are destroyed even before reaching the lower digestive tract due to the high acidity of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Therefore, the probiotic supplement should be carefully chosen.

Lucy Martinez