Now most of us have heard a lot about antibiotics. They’re those wonderous medications prescribed by doctors which slow down or completely eliminate the growth of bacteria in our bodies which contributes to infections either inside our bodies or on our skin or teeth. However probiotics are much less well known about.
So, what are probiotics?
When people talk about “bacteria”, your mind almost naturally assumes they’re referring to harmful germs. For example bacteria in public places that causes us to get sick, or bacteria on out-of-date food that has become spoiled is probably the first thing you think of when someone refers to bacteria. But you might be surprised to learn that bacteria isn’t always bad! Enter, probiotics. Probiotics are bacterial microorganisms found in our body which actually have health benefits – hence why they are called the “good bacteria”! Probiotics have a range of benefits for our health and wellbeing; one of their most important benefits is that they help us digest food. they help us digest our food and destroy cells that carry diseases.
The most common probiotics are those belonging to the Lactobacillus group and the Bifidobacterium group.
How can I introduce probiotics into my diet?
You might have seen some of my other articles talking about the benefits of fermented foods such as kombucha or sauerkraut, and how to introduce these sorts of foods into your diet. Well there’s a reason why I’m so excited about fermented food, and that’s partly because they contain probiotics, making them an extremely valuable addition into everyone’s diets. In addition to kombucha and sauerkraut, other good sources of probiotics include yoghurt, sourdough bread (one of my favourite types of bread) and kefir (a popular fermented milk product).
What are the benefits of probiotics?
Probiotics effectively restore the balance of microorganisms in your body.
One of the important times you should take probiotics is when you are taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection. When you take antibiotics for such infections, your bacteria count (consisting of both good and bad bacteria) naturally depletes and the natural balance of microorganisms is disturbed. By taking probiotics you effectively “offset” some of the depletion of the good bacteria, and help your body return to its optimum healthy condition. It is highly encouraged that when you are taking a course of antibiotics that you take a probiotic tablet each time you take an antibiotic tablet. Probiotics can restore your immune response when taken in this manner, and can also assist with negating some of the adverse side effects of antibiotics on our bodies (for example digestive or gastrointestinal issues). Probiotics are also generally useful for treating or mitigating some of the adverse effects of gastrointestinal conditions (whether or not they are a side effect of antibiotics) – for example, there has been research linking the consumption of probiotics to easing inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.
I’d highly recommend that you increase your consumption of probiotics naturally occurring in food (for example kombucha, yoghurt and sourdough bread) and also buy a jar to take when you’re taking antibiotics.