Gut probiotics are living microorganisms that, when ingested, colonize the gut and help it perform its functions by rebalancing the gut bacterial flora and providing health benefits to the entire body.
The intestinal bacterial flora (or microbiota) is a diverse and highly populated ecosystem made up of 100-150 different species of bacteria that perform several functions essential to our organism and health: roles of the metabolic type, enzymatic type functions, protection and stimulation of the immune system and protection against intestinal infections. You are likely to experience leaky gut syndrome if there is no balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria in your gut. You should therefore ensure you get enough probiotics each day.
How Probiotics Work
Probiotic microorganisms reach the intestines, where they can settle and develop their effects. They support the intestinal inhabitants already there by displacing unwanted germs and preventing harmful bacteria from entering. Probiotics do the following:
● Regulate digestion
● Displace pathogenic germs
● Support the immune system in the intestine and have overall positive effects on the immune system
● Strengthen the protective functions of the intestinal barrier: They prevent germs and undesirable substances from entering the blood through the intestinal wall.
You should know that not all probiotics are created equal. Each bacterial or yeast culture has specific effects that vary from strain to strain. It is therefore essential to select the appropriate probiotic for each symptom or disease.
The Relevance of Probiotics for Gut Health
Lactic ferments called “probiotics” are live and vital bacteria (such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria), essential for helping the rebalancing of the intestinal bacterial flora, as living in relationship with the intestinal mucosa, they are necessary for the functioning of the intestine. The intestine uses the probiotics we take to counteract the “bad” (pathogenic) bacteria that accidentally spread in the intestine and are responsible for inflammation. Therefore they serve to keep the intestine in “eubiosis” (i.e., healthy).
Functions of probiotics on the intestinal microbiota:
● It keeps the intestinal mucosa and intestinal permeability intact by reducing abdominal swelling.
● It regulates the intestinal and remote immune systems.
● Promotes digestion and assimilation of food
● They transform lactose into lactic acid, with improvement in the digestion of foods with lacto-derivatives.
● They prevent and cure antibiotic-induced diarrhea.
● Manage irritable bowel syndrome
In Which Cases to Take Probiotics?
A probiotic-based therapy can be useful before and during antibiotic treatment because these drugs upset the balance of the intestinal flora. During an intestinal infection, they can facilitate the resolution of symptoms by competing with the pathogenic bacteria that cause it.
Due to their favorable effects on the immune system (and therefore on the body’s “defenses”), probiotics can also be useful during the autumn and winter season to counteract the classic cold diseases: especially in the elderly (who are weaker) and in children (who get sick more often).
Probiotics can be useful, as mentioned, also in constipation because they improve intestinal motility. Their consumption can bring benefits even before embarking on a trip, to “strengthen” the intestine and, in case, to counteract the traveler’s diarrhea that can strike when the destination is a country that has different bacterial populations from those we are used to.
How Can They Be Consumed?
Probiotics are easily purchased at the supermarket as milk fermented by specific bacteria that arrive alive to the intestine. They contain bacterial strains different from traditional yogurt, which can more specifically help the normal functioning of the body by stimulating the immune functions, facilitating the functioning of the intestine (especially when it is lazy). Some of these products often referred to as yogurt, also contain other substances with interesting health effects. For example, those that contain plant phytosterols are useful for controlling blood cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, the probiotic supplements generally consist of freeze-dried cultured bacteria, which are consumed dissolved in water. Therefore, for the intestinal flora’s well-being, you can take “good” bacteria in the form of probiotics present in specific foods or supplements.