Probiotics is generally defined as “the use of beneficial strains of bacteria or yeast (or simply, beneficial microorganisms) to improve the well-being of a person.” Essentially, people use probiotics to boost their immune system and to improve their digestive function. Good bacteria play an important role in human health.
Apart from helping us fully digest food, good bacteria also help control bad bacteria in the digestive tract. That’s right – we play host to both good bacteria and bad bacteria.
There are even yeast strains in the digestive tract! If you are healthy and your body has a healthy amount of good bacteria, destructive yeast and other undesirable microorganisms are suppressed.
However, when this delicate balanced is disturbed by illness or by poor food choices, the digestive tract can become inflamed or even infected. When this happens, some people turn to probiotics to aid the body in its path to recovery.
Uses of probiotics
Humans did not really ‘invent’ probiotics in the truest sense of the word. If you want a name for its real inventor, try “Mother Nature.” Evolution made sure that the strongest survivors of natural selection would have a way to fend off harmful microorganisms, should they try to proliferate in the body. And what better way to do this than by using good bacteria and yeast strains?
In modern medicine, probiotics is usually used in pediatrics because newborn infants do not have the beneficial bacteria in their digestive tract yet. That’s why pediatricians usually advocate zinc supplementation during the first few months of life. Zinc has been known to boost the immune system and the digestive system. When these two systems are healthy, beneficial bacteria can easily flourish.
In recent years, alternative healthcare practitioners and some conventional medical practitioners have turned their attention to probiotics to remedy specific conditions such as diarrhea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
It should be noted early on that doctors do not usually prescribe probiotics to anyone, because probiotics have not been established as a cure of any single disease. A cure is different from a complementary treatment. Doctors have been trained to be wary of drugs and alternative practices that have not yet been studied rigorously.
Does this mean that you should avoid probiotics because doctors are not prescribing it to people?
Of course not. It’s actually entirely up to you. You don’t need a prescription to buy probiotic products on the market; you just need the right information so you can buy the right type of supplementation. Our first piece of advice for you if you are just starting out with probiotics is to stick with probiotic foodsbefore you try probiotic pills or capsules.
We advocate this because the body can take care of itself if you give it the right kind of food. If you eat well, your diet will have a probiotic effect on your body. It is likely that you already have all the beneficial bacterial strains that you need to fend off certain infections. You just have to eat well to ensure that you have a healthy population of these bacteria in your body.