Probiotics are made of good bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body, contributing to your health. You constantly have both good and bad bacteria in your body. When you get an infection, there’s more bad bacteria, knocking your system out of balance. Good bacteria help eliminate extra bad bacteria, returning the balance. Probiotic-supplements are a way to add good bacteria to your body.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are a combination of beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. Bacteria is usually viewed in a negative light as something that makes you sick. However, you have two kinds of bacteria constantly in and on your body — good bacteria and bad bacteria. Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that helps keep your body healthy and working well. This good bacterium helps you in many ways, including fighting off bad bacteria when you have too much of it, helping you feel better.
The good bacteria prevent the bad bacteria( disease causing bacteria) from taking hold in the body. The good bacteria in the gut also have an effect on the brain ( mood & concentration) via the Gut Brain axis. Extensive scientific literature and proof is available to state that good bacteria in the human body are vital for proper functioning of various organ systems in the body. Extensive antibiotic usage / abuse may kill the good bacteria, making you susceptible to various diseases. It is vital that we replenish the good bacteria regularly, especially after having used powerful antibiotics.
Probiotics are part of a larger picture concerning bacteria and your body — your microbiome. Think of a microbiome as a diverse community of organisms, such as a forest, that work together to keep your body healthy. This community is made up of micro-organisms called microbes. You have trillions of microbes on and in your body. These microbes are a combination of:
- Fungi (including yeasts)
For a microbe to be called a probiotic, it must have several characteristics. These include being able to:
- Be isolated from a human.
- Survive in your intestine after ingestion (being eaten / swallowed by us).
- Have a proven benefit to you.
- Be safe to be consumed.
Where do Beneficial Probiotics (microbes) live in the Body?
Though the most common place linked to beneficial microbes is your gut (mostly large intestines), you have several locations in and on your body that host good microbes. These locations are in contact with the “outside world" and include your:
- Urinary tract.
Probiotics: Adults Vs Children
Now that we’ve covered what probiotics are and how they work, we’ll look at some pointers regarding probiotics for adults and probiotics for kids, and how they are beneficial.
PROBIOTICS IN KIDS
If your child has an illness that requires an antibiotic medication for treatment, taking a probiotic along with the antibiotic can help shorten symptoms. Powerful antibiotics may harm the good bacteria in the bowel and hence they have to be replenished. Probiotics can also be used to help relieve constipation, acid reflux, diarrhoea, gas and eczema in children.
Introducing probiotics into your child’s diet through food is typically a safe way to give them probiotics. Foods like yogurt and cottage cheese are often part of a balanced diet and can add in good bacteria without much risk.
There are commercially available probiotic supplements specifically designed for infants and children. However, it is important to talk to your child’s paediatrician before giving them any probiotic supplement or changing the child’s diet to include probiotic-rich foods. The ‘Happy Gut’ probiotics from the brand ForKids can safely be given to children, with assured efficacy.
PROBIOTICS IN ADULTS
If you've ever taken antibiotics, chances are that there is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in your gut. This is because antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately, including the good kind. Some of the other reasons to consider taking a daily probiotic as an adult include:
May reduce the risk of cardiovascular Diseases
Various scientists have theorized that probiotics can help lower your cholesterol, thereby, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. One study has tried to examine the mechanism through which probiotics reduces cholesterol in the body.
Takes care of antibiotic-associated Diarrhoea
One of the side-effects of antibiotic use for pneumonia or some other health condition is developing diarrhoea.
Promotes a Healthy Immune System
Even generally healthy people get sick on occasion. Probiotic supplements can help minimize these occurrences. Several strains of probiotics boost your immune system and help you fight infections such as flu and the common cold.
Promotes Brain Functions
Via the Gut Brain Axis, the brain and the Gut constantly interact with each other and contribute to adequate functioning of both and rest of body organs.
Before you start any supplements for yourself or your kids, make sure you talk to your health care provider. Your provider may be able to point you in the right direction, helping you figure out the best probiotic to take, how much to take and when to take it. A conversation is always worth the time when it concerns your health.