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Not all bacteria are like the evil witches in fairy tales. Some are like the fairy godmothers watching over you, helping you without you realising it. And this is precisely the idea behind probiotics – to harvest the good bacteria to use it for good-er things.
Probiotic is the latest catchphrase in the world of health fanatics. Not only are supplements available, but many specially created foods and even probiotic straws have hit the market. In the face of such overwhelming craze, we help you figure out what probiotics are, how they help you, and whether you need to ingest them externally. What are probiotics? Probiotics are live microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeasts, that are good for health. Our body contains both good bacteria and bad, but there needs to be a balance between the two for a person to be healthy. An imbalance, called dysbiosis, may cause ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, obesity, and even diabetes. How are they helpful? These microorganisms are found naturally in the body and help digest our food, produce vitamins, and destroy disease-causing microorganisms, the most commonly classified of which are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. They help prevent or treat the following:
There are claims that probiotics also help in treatment of other diseases, such as allergic disorders, oral health problems, colic in infants, liver disease, common cold, and urinary and vaginal health, but it has not been proven yet. Probiotics are generally safe for healthy people. However, if you have immune system problems, are pregnant or nursing, are undergoing chemotherapy, have had recent surgery, or have serious health issues, talk to your doctor before taking any probiotic supplements. Most experts say that the probiotics found in our diet, such as in yoghurt, kefir milk, and kimchi, are enough to keep the balance between the good and bad bacteria. What might tilt the scales in the favour of bad bacteria, is our lifestyle, including poor dietary choices, not enough sleep, stress, antibiotic and other drug overuse, and environmental factors. Take care of these, and you can keep your gut healthy and smiling!
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