Probiotics: Benefits, Sources, Deficiency

Your body is home to a variety of microbes – and these include both good and bad ones. While all of us are aware of the harmful effects of pathogens, only a few of us realize that there are several other microorganisms that have several benefits to provide too. 

This was first discovered by Eli Metchnikoff in the year 1907. His discovery led to research in the field of how useful microbes could be used to improve the overall health of individuals – and thus, established a market for the same – these ‘good’ microorganisms are referred to as probiotics.

Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics are mainly used to help with treating many gastrointestinal ailments – with the most certain one being the treatment of diarrhoea. However, its effects seem to be limited to children and infants, and the same success has not been replicated in adult studies yet. 

Apart from this, they are also used to help reduce the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).

Probiotics are useful for the maintenance of urinary health – studies have shown that probiotics can help prevent and treat uro-genital infections – and this list includes UTI (Urinary tract infection).

While research into the other advantages is still in the initial stages, studies are focusing on how probiotics can be useful for adults, and how they can aid other parts of the body (such as the lungs). Early results indicate that they may be useful in treating some kinds of lung infections, and may be able to cure diarrhoea in adults.


Sources of Probiotics

Yoghurt is one of the best-known sources of probiotics. However, you must take care to ensure that the nutritional value of the product is high and that it does not contain artificial sweeteners or flavours. Miso soup, a dish native to Japan – is rich in probiotics too, and is very easy to prepare. 

Other rich sources of probiotics include kimchi and tempeh. These are also available in supplement form – make sure you check the strain of microorganisms before buying them.

Deficiencies of Probiotics

Deficiencies associated with probiotics are usually caused as a side effect of antibiotic treatments. The problem is that while these antibiotics kill pathogens, they often harm the good bacteria as well – this results in a reduction in the number of probiotics in the system and may lead to a variety of symptoms, most of which are gastrointestinal.

Symptoms of probiotic deficiency include stomach pain, constipation or diarrhoea, indigestion and nausea. In some severe cases, it may also lead to inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Symptoms of IBS are often cured when the probiotic levels are brought back to normal through means of consumption.

In some other cases, probiotic deficiency may lead to lactose intolerance because the body no longer has the ability to digest milk.

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