Should You be Eating More Probiotic Foods?

Should you be eating more probiotic foods?  Here are some benefits and risks that you should consider.

probiotic foods

Eating probiotic foods does a lot of good for the body.  From promoting healthy bowel movement to boosting the immune system, you definitely can take advantage of what these can offer. Should you be eating more probiotic foods?  Here are some benefits and risks that you should consider before you answer this question.

What is Probiotic

Understanding what probiotic foods are is the first step in deciding to increase this type of food in your diet.  Probiotics are actually good bacteria and yeasts that are found in the digestive tract. They basically help achieve healthy digestion and are particularly a good antidote for diarrhea.  Probiotic foods are basically food infused with these live microorganisms.

They offer many health benefits that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for as long they are taken in adequate amounts.  However, the FDA are quick to remind the public that it is essential to make a background check of the probiotic foods and supplements that they plan to include in their diet. Since these have bacteria and yeasts as components, they are prone to have various contaminants and impurities.  This is the main reason why you should do your part in doing proper research and consultation before you actually go ahead and increase probiotic foods in your diet.

Healthy Probiotic Strains

Probiotic microorganisms also come in different types with different functions.  This is why you should consult your doctor so that he or she can advise you as to what type of probiotic foods you should focus on.  Here are some of the usual probiotic strains that people use to gain access to a variety of FDA-approved health benefits:

  • For dietary support and combating diarrhea, go for S. cerevisiae, Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.  They usually come in the form of yogurt, fermented milk, soy milk, powder, or capsules.
  • To boost immune system among older people, look for Bifidobacterium lactis HN019.  They are mostly found in dairy products. Supplements in capsule form typically have them.
  • Other immune system-friendly probiotic strains are Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12, Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001, Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC55730, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.  They come as yogurt, dairy products, and supplements.

Probiotic foods benefits

Here are some of the benefits that you can enjoy if you include probiotic foods in your diet:

  • Promote gut healthy and excellent digestion

Probiotics are good bacteria.  They keep the bad ones at bay achieving a healthy environment in your digestive system.  This is the main reason why many have probiotic supplements as part of their health regimen.

  • An antidote to diarrhea

Not only do probiotics combat diarrhea, they also help prevent it from happening.  Again, the good and bad bacteria balance that probiotics promote comes to play at here.  If diarrhea is your usual adverse reaction to taking antibiotics, increasing probiotic foods intake before taking your medication will help reduce the risk of such a side effect.

  • Promote heart health

Another reason you can use to justify adding more probiotic foods to your diet is that they are good for the heart.  Probiotics help regulate cholesterol and blood pressure and by enhancing bile breakdown in the gut. This is why many doctors suggest the inclusion of an adequate amount of probiotic yogurt among patients with health concerns.

  • Combats digestive disorders

Intake of probiotic foods is usually encouraged when a person is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and necrotizing enterocolitis.  This is because probiotics help improve symptoms of said digestive disorders. Important to note that they are taken to improve symptoms not to treat them. Make sure to consult your doctor if you are suffering from any of these conditions.

  • Improves mental health

This is one benefit not commonly attributed to probiotics.  Recent studies have shown that the strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium help manage symptoms of autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety.  Again, this is not the sole treatment for these mental health issues. They are taken as a supplement designed to contribute in symptom management.

  • Reduces eczema and some forms of allergies

Some studies have shown a direct link between symptom management of eczema and certain allergies to probiotics.  In some cases, individuals suffering from eczema particularly children showed improvement after taking probiotic supplements in the form of food or drink.

  • Boosts immune system

The FDA recognizes immune system health as a benefit offered by probiotic foods.  Since they promote a healthy gut environment, they can also keep infections at bay.  Probiotics also support the production of antibodies that naturally occur in the body.

  • Help lose weight

Probiotic foods help you achieve ideal size in a variety of ways.  They promote satiation so that means lesser cravings. They help reduce belly fat.  Probiotic foods also drastically reduce the absorption of fat into the intestine, expelling it via a bowel movement.

Side Effects, Dosage, Risks

Such benefits may convince you to increase probiotic foods in your diet but there is the other side of the coin that you should also consider.  Among the side effects of probiotics are:

  • Bloating
  • Increase in stomach gas
  • Allergic reactions such as itching, swelling, dizziness, and trouble breathing

If you exhibit signs like high fever or persistent loose bowel movement, immediately discontinue use and consult your doctor.

Probiotics are also not recommended in the following cases:

  • Persistent diarrhea occurring for more than two days
  • Compromised immune system such as in the case of HIV infection
  • Recurring infections
  • Diabetes
  • Acute pancreatitis

Consult your doctor if you plan to take probiotic foods or supplements when you are pregnant or lactating.

Dosage recommendations vary from condition to condition.  The range is usually set at 10 million to one billion CFU/mg per day.  You also have to look into what particular strain you should increase in intake if you are suffering from a specific condition that that strain is effective at treating.  Sometimes, your response to certain disorders is multi-strain in nature. This is the reason why the best way to achieve the right amount and type of strain of antibiotics is by consulting your physician.  

Probiotic foods do a lot of good for the body.  With its many FDA-approved benefits, you can be assured that they are safe and healthy for human intake.  However, make sure you know the right amount needed and the accurate strain that you need. This way, you can manage the symptoms of whatever condition you have while fully enjoying all the benefits probiotics offer.

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