Whether it is miso, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, or even some fermented teas such as kombucha, almost every culture around the world has at least one fermented food that’s touted to bestow health benefits. But what’s in these fermented foods that is somehow able to hold medicinal properties that aren’t found in normal foods? The answer to that is wrapped up in what we generally refer to as “probiotics.”
Probiotics are naturally occurring micro-organisms that can bestow health and healing benefits to their hosts when consumed. They can be found in fermented foods as mentioned above, or can be taken as supplements, which is an increasingly popular method for the consumption of probiotics. Whatever the method, the point is to get the “good” bacteria into our systems.
Naturally-occurring by the tens of billions, “good bacteria” are the microbes that help to keep our guts and the rest of our bodies healthy. Through bad diets, illness, and the use of antibiotics, we may end up destroying our good bacteria, and therefore in need of replenishing our body’s supply in order to heal or protect our guts.
Are Probiotics Right for You?
Whether you develop an imbalance of good bacteria due to illness or having to take antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria, or your body is not hosting enough of the good bacteria for another reason, there are several instances in which a person may need to start supplementing with probiotics in order to protect against digestive and other diseases. Gut health is extremely important, and in most cases an unhealthy gut is an indicator or even more serious conditions elsewhere in the body. This is where probiotics can become extremely helpful, in helping the body bolster the necessary good bacteria to fight off impending illnesses or even lessen the symptoms of some existing conditions.
Patients who are at risk or already suffering from these conditions are especially recommended to consider adding probiotics to their health regimen:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
There are many other digestive issues that can be helped through the proper use of probiotics, as well as a whole host of many other disorders, even certain allergies. Although probiotics are most effective in the prevention of illness, your doctor can also effectively use them in the treatment of serious digestive diseases such as acute diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.
All Probiotics are Not Created Equal
Just like there are many different strains of bad bacteria, so are there many different strains of good bacteria. Each different strain is responsible for one area or is stronger in another area, so it’s important to first talk to your doctor about probiotics before you just buy a bottle form the shelf and start taking it. For example, one strain known as Lactobacillus is believed to be effective for digestive issues, but there are four different variations of this strain, and only a trained specialist can help you determine which strain and how much will be beneficial for your health.
Even still, the saccharomyces boulardii strain may be better for certain types of diarrhea, while a combination of bifidobacterium bifidum and streptococcus thermopilus can be helpful in protecting kids from certain types of infections. This is why it’s important to first speak to your doctor about your specific health concerns before taking a probiotic supplement.
Take control of your digestive health, and get on the road to a healthy gut today by talking to your doctor about adding probiotics to your health routine. Visit our Bumrungrad International Hospital Digestive Disease Center or to make an appointment, please contact 02 011 2222.
Editor’s Note: This article has been reprinted here with permission of Bumrungrad International Hospital.