Probiotics – The benefits and how they keep you healthy

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that that are beneficial to your health and help to maintain good health, digestive health in particular. They improve the balance of flora (living organisms/bacteria) in the digestive system, where humans carry 3 to 4 kilograms of bacterial flora. This is a huge amount of bacteria, which is why it is important to maintain a healthy balance. Friendly bacteria help with many functions within the digestive system, including digestion, repairing the digestive lining, fighting infection and preventing bad bacteria from taking over. Probiotic supplements help to bring about balance within the digestive system and promote strength within it. Many products are available to fulfill this need, so there’s something for everyone.

The history of probiotics dates back as early as 1907, when Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff suggested the possibility of altering the bacterial composition of the digestive system by introducing to it beneficial bacteria, replacing harmful microbes with useful ones. As scientists explored probiotics further, different strains of probiotics were discovered and developed, adding to the range of benefits they can provide for people. A more comprehensive and accurate definition of probiotics was popularised around the end of the 1980s by Roy Fuller, “a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance”. By this time, probiotics were widely accepted as viable in their capacity to improve intestinal balance. Since the real of probiotics has become more universally appreciated, products have been released to assist people with maintaining the balance of good and bad bacteria in their digestive system, and thus reap benefits for their health overall such as greater immunity to diseases and infection.

“Probiotic” translates to “for life”, and supplements promote good health by containing enough beneficial bacteria to alter the digestive environment within the body. Living bacteria is also present in some foods, but generally not in a quantity that rivals probiotic supplements. Ethical Nutrients Inner Health Plus is a good example of an all-round probiotic supplement, whereas more specific probiotic supplements exist such as Inner Health Plus for Kids, Inner Health Plus Immune Booster and Blackmores Probiotics+ Immune Defence. Another popular type of probiotic supplement is Yakult, featuring the Shirota Strain of Lactobacillus casei. The vast range of supplements available for purchase over the years has been further expanded to include powders, drinks, pills and chews, thus further broadening the market for companies who produce them. Such expansion in product lines means there really is something for everyone, kids to adults, and something that will address most digestive concerns.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food fibres that enable good bacteria to stick to the walls of the digestive system, and pre-biotic supplements stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestinal tract. In other words, prebiotics facilitate the beneficial aspects of probiotics by stimulating the growth of good bacteria. This is important to be able to gain the full benefits of probiotics, and thus unlock the potential to vastly improve your digestive health. The combination of prebiotics and probiotics, under the guidance of a doctor or pharmacist, can prove crucial in balancing the presence of good and bad bacteria in the digestive system, and really get your money’s worth out of the probiotics you consume.

Pre- and probiotics can be incredibly beneficial for people who are experiencing digestive issues, or for those who simply want to maintain their intestinal health and prevent issues from surfacing in the first place. Probiotics that address a variety of different needs are available at Padbury Pharmacy, so do not hesitate to head in store, chat to our staff and pick up the product that’s right for you.