What Are Probiotics
Bacteria are notoriously known for causing and spreading various diseases. But there has been an increasing amount of positive evidence suggests that some bacteria can actually cure diseases. These good bacteria are known as ‘probiotics’. The term ‘probiotics’ is derived from the Greek word ‘for life’. Years ago, advances in medicine helped to clarify the relation between human beings and the bacteria in our body: both your body and the bacteria in it could benefit from each other. The concept that some bacteria may promote health rather than harm it was born at the end of 19th century when Russian scientist Eli Metchnikoff at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He suggested that it would be possible to modify the gut flora and to replace harmful microbes with useful ones.
Since then, there is continuous effort been made in the scientific field to define what probiotics is. The term was originally used to describe substances produced by one microorganism which simulated the growth of others. Until recently the most widely used definition which contributed to the development of the probiotic concept was from Fuller (1989): “a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance”.The official definition of probiotics used at present was given by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002 as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. In relation to food, the definition could be adjusted by emphasizing that the beneficial effect is exerted by the microorganisms “when consumed in adequate amounts as part of food”. Probiotic food products should have a good shelf life and should have a cell count higher than 106CFU/ml till the consumption.
Page Contents - Quick Links
- What Are Probiotics
- 15 Health Benefits Proven by research
- Improve digestion
- Controlling mood and anxiety
- Prevent traveler’s diarrhea
- Prevent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Relieve constipation
- Relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance
- Strengthen the immune system
- Reduce allergies
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Fight against obesity
- Treat recurrent infections
- Prevent type 2 diabetics
- Prevent fatigues
- How do probiotics work?
- What are the top probiotics killers?
- Tips to get more Probiotics
- Top 10 Probiotics Food Sources
- Probiotics supplements
- What are the well-known probiotics?
- Side Effects & Dangers of Probiotics
The number of microbial species which may exert probiotic properties is considerably large considering their definition. Some of the most prominent representatives are listed in Table 1. Only strains of lactic acid bacteria are concerned in human nutrition. Lactic acid bacteria (LABs) are bacterial species able to produce lactic as the main end-product of carbohydrate fermentation. Among all LABs, two groups genera might be most well-known probiotic microorganisms, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
|L. acidophillus||B. adolescentis|
|L. casei||B. animalis|
|L. crispatus||B. bifidum|
|L. gallinarum||B. breve|
|L. gasseri||B. infantis|
|L. johnsonni||B. lactis|
|L. paracasei||B. longum|
Table 1. microorganism considered as probiotics
Probiotic properties are strain specific. Hence, it is very important to identify and detect the strain. Moreover, according to international standards, the probiotic cultures used in food should be well defined and correctly named according to valid taxonomic systems. An example of the naming of probiotic bacteria is:
The first name is the genus ‘Bifidobacterium’. The second name designate the species within the genus ‘lactis’. The third name or number that appears is the specific strain within the species ‘BB-12’. So next when you check your probiotic-supplemented foods, you will be able to differentiate whether they are from the same family.
There is few more common knowledge that you may want to know about probiotics:
- Probiotics are not foreign microbes. They are flora which naturally presents in the lower gastrointestinal tract of the human digestive system.
- The GI tract of the fetus is sterile. During birth, the baby picks up a number of probiotics through this mouth. These bacteria will reach the infant’s gut and begin to flourish.
- The probiotics are designed to resist the effects of the digestive enzymes and survive overcoming all the barriers of the human digestive system.
- Probiotics live throughout our entire body from the mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, to intestine, rectum, colon, joints, toenails, toes and urinary tract!
- Probiotics outweigh your brain:
15 Health Benefits Proven by research
Research has credited several health benefits to probiotic organisms that are indigenous to the gastrointestinal tract, as well as those consumed through probiotic products. These include their ability to relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance, increase immune function, cholesterol lowering potential, antimutagenic activity, treatment of diarrhea etc.
As mentioned above, scientific research has shown that there exists a micro-ecology within the human gut. The ecological environment is maintained by a balance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. Ideally, the beneficial bacteria should constitute no less than 85% of the human gut biota. However, if this balance is disturbed in anyway, this will lead to several health problems, and the digestive problem is one of them. Probiotics influence the digestive process by the improvement of the microbial population of the ‘good’ bacterial, by enhancing its enzyme activity and by improving digestibility. Fermented milk that is rich in probiotics was used as a tonic for the stomach problem.
Controlling mood and anxiety
There is research investigating the relationship between bacteria in the digestive system and psychological issues, such as depression, stress and anxiety. These connections also have implication for your immune system. This is a relatively new idea, and most studies have so far been done on animals instead of humans. These studies suggest the possibility of treating patients with psychological issues with improved probiotics administration. The first study on human showed that consumption of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota containing milk for 3 weeks improved mood. More recently, another double-blinded study showed that ingestion of L. helveticus and B. longum for 30 days resulted in the beneficial effect on the general signs of anxiety and depression.
Prevent traveler’s diarrhea
Traveler’s diarrhea is a common health complaint among travelers. There is 20-50% incidence of diarrhea for travelers depending on their origin and destination as well as the mode of travel. Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli is the most common infectious agents that causing traveler’s diarrhea. Several probiotics have shown significant efficacy to prevent traveler’s diarrhea, including L. acidophilus and B. bifidum. However, an effective medically recommended probiotic therapy for traveler’s diarrhea is not fully established.
Prevent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
IBD is featured by inflammation of the GIT that can lead to pain, diarrhea and bleeding. The exact cause responsible for initiation and perpetuation of these processes is unknown, but it is proposed to be related to a disturbance in the endogenous intestinal microbial flora and a defective mucosal barrier. Probiotics seem to represent an effective and safe approach for the maintenance treatment of patients with IBD. Using bacterial supplementation as an adjuvant to treatment is fast emerging.
Some Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species can enhance bowel regularity and mucous secretion by converting bound bile salts into free bile salts. These free bile salts cause more water to be pulled into the colon which softens the stool and aids in elimination.The probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12®, for example, converts prebiotic fibres into short chain fatty acids which lubricate your gut and naturally stimulate peristalsis.
Relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance
Because of lactase deficiency, a large proportion of the world’s adult population suffers from symptoms such as flatulence, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Highest rates of lactose intolerance are found in the Asian population, Native Americans and African Americans. Lactose-intolerant people may consume milk products without adverse symptoms if high concentrations of lactase are present in the product.The fermentation of lactose by probiotics in the colon aids symptoms of lactose intolerance. The probiotic best suited to do this are Bifidobacteria. Research showed that Bifidobacterium longum could be used as a potential probiotic treatment for lactose intolerance.
Strengthen the immune system
According to the research, around 83% of your immunity can be directly linked to the gut wall. The gastrointestinal tract and the gut-associated immune system have evolved into an integrated barrier between the internal environment and the constant challenge from antigens such as food and pathogens. The gut microbiota is an active constituent in the intestine barrier.Probiotics play a pivotal role in protecting and strengthening the immune system.Therapeutic strategies for combination enteric infections as well as allergy and inflammation have used probiotics.For example, administration of Lactobacillus GG has been found to enhance immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody which binds and excludes harmful antigens. So if you are sick, enriching the probiotic flora will boost your immune system and help your body to fight against the harmful bacteria that are causing the problem.
Probiotics strengthen the immune system and in the process, they help your body to fight against carcinogens and toxins. They can also prohibit the growth of cancerous tumors and demonstrate antiproliferative effects. It has been demonstrated that probiotics inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. Their effect on facilitating bowel movement also lowers the risk of the colon. Studies have also shown that probiotics stimulate the production of anti-cancer chemicals.
Antiproliferative effects and antigenotoxic and antimutagenic activities are documented; to some extent, these also seem to be species and strain specific (47–49). Fecal enzymes [e.g. β-glucuronidase (EC 220.127.116.11) and azobenzene reductase (EC 18.104.22.168)] related to colon carcinogenesis were found to be reduced by particular strains, such as L. GG50. The probiotic, Lactobacillus casei, have also been shown to reduce the risk of bladder cancer.
Allergy represents a chronic disorder affecting 20% of the world population. It is the most common chronic disease of childhood. The hygiene hypothesis of allergy supposes that rapid increase in allergy is related to reduced exposure to infections early in life. Successful maturation of the gut immune system requires constant microbial stimulus from the developing gastrointestinal microflora. The lack of exposure to infectious agents in the early age increased the risk of allergies later in life. Certain probiotics is a potentially useful in allergy prevention and triggering innate immune system and thus help protect against the allergies. The exact mechanism behind the favorable effects of probiotics on allergy are not entirely understood, but it is expected that they may exert a beneficial effect by improving mucosal barrier function and microbial stimulation of immune system. Probiotics have been proven effective in the remedy of pollen allergy in children and adults. The administration of L. rhamnosus GG and B. lactis BB-12 reduced the risk of allergy to cow milk protein.
There is a body of evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of probiotics on restore acidic skin pH, alleviate oxidative stress, attenuate photoaging, improve skin barrier function and enhance hair quality. Moreover, probiotics aid in digestion and nutrient absorption which allow the body to assimilate skin-friendly nutrients and fats that keep the skin continue to glow.
Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Maintenance of an appropriate calcium balance is especially important for bone health. A disturbed balance between resorption and osteogenesis result in irreversible changes in bone structure and lead to osteoporosis. In the literature, there are many studies confirming the positive effect of diet supplementation of oligosaccharides and probiotics on the absorption and retention of calcium. Because the fermentation of oligosaccharides in the large intestine by the probiotics lower pH in the large intestine and results in the dissolution of calcium-phosphate-magnesium complexes formed in the small intestine. This increased the amount of ionized calcium which is the absorbable form in the human body.
Fight against obesity
It was known that obese and lean people have different microflora profiles which play a major role in converting food into energy. There is a large body of experimental evidence showing that probiotics which modify the gut microflora. Probiotics are being investigated as a mean to manipulate the GI flora to reduce fat deposition, which could help to reduce weight gain. Lactobacillusrhamnosus PL60 was able to reduce the body weight of obese mice without reducing energy intake.
Treat recurrent infections
Probiotics produce antibiotic chemicals, which are perfectly tuned to kill the invading pathogens. And if the pathogens become resistant to that chemical, then the probiotics will change strategies and produce a new, more effective antibiotic chemical. A few studies have reported that babies treated with LGG experience fewer incidence of respiratory infections. Specific probiotic strains were also demonstrated to decrease the recurrence of urinary tract infections both in adults and in children.
Prevent type 2 diabetics
It has been suggested that the consumption of probiotic can lower the onset of insulin resistance and consequently reduce the incidence of hypertensive conditions that are closely related to diabetes.
A Recent study showed that probiotics improve the overall quality of life of colorectal cancer survivors, including fatigue-related symptoms. It has also been proven that alternative medicines, such as probiotics, can help patients dealing with fatigue caused by cancer or by cancer treatment like radiotherapy.
How do probiotics work?
To understand how probiotics work, it is important to understand a little about the microbiology of the human gastrointestinal tract. Gut flora are unique to every individual. Our flora fingerprint is established by around the age of two, and we will have those same bacteria for the rest of our life. Your body recognizes these bacteria, and these bacteria recognize each other and work to prevent foreign invasion. Disturbance in the normal endogenous intestinal microbial flora led to diseases. Originally, it was thought that probiotics operated solely by modifying the composition or activity of our gut microflora. Probiotics remove the ‘bad’ invasive pathogens into our body. More insights have been added with the advances in medical studies. These range from bacteriocin and short chain fatty acid production, lower of gut pH, and nutrition competition to stimulation of mucosal barrier function and immunomodulation.
The usefulness of probiotics has been implied in a wide range of diseases. Each probiotic strain also works in a slightly different way. A number of mechanisms have been proposed. However, the exact manners in which probiotics exert their effect is still not fully elucidated. Here are some theories have been put forth for consideration.
Release of antimicrobial compounds
This is the most widely accepted theory. The organic acid, free fatty acids, hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins released by probiotics may induce an antagonistic action against pathogenic organisms. The accumulation of such metabolites can reduce the pH of the surrounding environment, which may directly inhibit the growth of harmful organisms. The best characterized probiotic with these properties is L. casei strain GG, reclassified as LGG. LABs also release antimicrobial substances reuterin and bacteriocins.
Increase induction of mucin secretion
The increased mucin secretion results in enhanced binding of probiotics to the intestinal mucosa. This action blocks enteropathogenic binding to the epithelial receptors. Studies demonstrate that L. acidophilus and L. casei adhere to Caco-2 cells at the expense of entropathogens, such as Salmonella, at a relatively high number.
Promotion of nonspecific stimulation of the host immune system
The immunomodulation has been the subject of numerous studies, and there is considerable evidence that probiotics influence several aspects of the acquired an innate immune response by inducing immune cell proliferation, enhanced phagocytic activity of macrophages, increased production of secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgM and modified T-cell responses. This would explain the role of probiotics in allergy prevention.
Compete receptors with pathogens
Probiotics compete with microbial pathogens for a limited number of receptors present on the surface of the intestinal epithelium.
Stabilization of intestinal permeability barrier
The intestinal permeability barrier restricts colonization by pathogens. Probiotics help to stabilize this barrier, eliminate foreign antigen and regulate the antigen-specific immune responses.
Decrease the use of antibiotics
Probiotics can stimulate the immune system by promoting the natural host defence system and thus reducing the excessive need for antibiotic san perhaps weaken the link between obesity and antibiotic use.
What are the top probiotics killers?
There is no doubt that probiotics have serval beneficial influence on the human body. It only deliver you all the benefits when enough amount is administrated, and the growth conditions are right. Firstly, you need to have enough number of viable probiotics in your food or supplements because a huge number of beneficial microorganisms are required to restore your natural health.It is estimated that you need to consume about 30 billion to 500 billion microorganisms in each pill to get an effective dose. However, most probiotic supplements contain only a few billion. Inadequate dosage is the major hurdle to the effectiveness of probiotics to improve human health.
There are many factors that impact on the survival of ingested probiotics in the gastrointestinal tract as the level of stomach acidity, the time of exposure to acid, and the concentration of bile salts and time of exposure to them, the level of bile salt hydrolase activity and the probiotic species and strains used.The most important factor is how well they can survive the acid and bile secretion in the stomach in the upper GI tract. It is because that probiotics have been known to have a low tolerance to both bile and the stomach acid in general.So, they must be able to survive these two barriers before they can reach the lower GI track and flourish there. Nevertheless, many probiotic strains can withstand the rigors passage through the upper gastrointestinal tract and enter the colon in a viable state insufficient number to affect the microecology and metabolism in the colon.
Your diet also plays a critical role in maintaining the probiotics population. If you eat a lot of unhealthy foods rich in fats and red meat, this will upset the pH of your gut. As the environment becomes more acidic, the harmful bacteria begin to flourish and led to a disruption of the microecology of the human gut.
Moreover, research shows that antibiotics kill L. acidophilus and B. bifidum. Hence, it is always recommended to take probiotic supplements during your course of antibiotics. It helps to replenish the friendly bacteria in your gut because your digestion function is upset.
Tips to get more Probiotics
The effectiveness of the incorporation of probiotics strains into food products is an important factor to be addressed. Here are some tips for you to get more from consuming probiotics food or supplement.
Take probiotics with a meal
Having food in your stomach helps neutralize stomach acids that harmful to the probiotics.
Take probiotics daily
Probiotics are sloughed off every day. So consistent taking of probiotics is the key. It will take up to 14 days to see full benefits as your body adjust.
Feed your probiotics
Ingestion of prebiotics together with probiotics help boost the prebiotics population in your GI tract. A prebiotic is defined as non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of a number of bacteria in the colon, improving the host’s health. Asymbiotic approach, a mixture of probiotics and probiotics, has shown beneficial results.
Store your probiotics properly
The good news is that our probiotics can be stored at room temperature in a cool and dry place. No refrigeration required.
The digestive imbalance is just one of the health issues tied to physical stress. Do yourself a favor by managing your daily physical stress levels.
Top 10 Probiotics Food Sources
The range of food products containing probiotic strains is wide and still growing. The main products existing in the market are dairy-based ones including fermented milk, cheese, ice cream, buttermilk, milk powder and yogurt. Non-dairy food applications include soy-based products, nutrition bars, cereals and a variety of juices as appropriate means of probiotic delivery to the consumer.
Fermented milk is the best example of early probiotics. It is known as yogurt today and is made in a controlled environment by two non-probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophiles. Yogurt product is considered as the best-known food vehicle for probiotics because, beyond its own physicochemical and functional characteristics, the LAB present in the fermented milk area associated with health by the consumers so far. Yogurt also accounts for the largest share of the sale of probiotic products. It is generally assumed that consumption of probiotic yogurt should be more than 100g/day containing more than 106CFU/ml. in recent year, there has been a significant increase in the popularity of yogurt emphasizing the incorporation of L. casei and B. bifidum.
Recommended read: How to make homemade yogurt
Similar to yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy product using kefir grains. It is perhaps one the oldest probiotic food stuff. There has been a3000-yearhistory of eating Kefir. The term kefir means ‘feeling good’ in Russia and Turkey. Historically, kefir has been recommended in the treatment of conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, hypertension, allergy and ischemic heart disease. It has a slightly sour and tart flavor. Kefir contains 10-34 strains of probiotics. It contains more probiotics than yogurt because of more bacteria in the kefir grains.
Cheese is a good carrier for probiotic bacteria because, compared to yogurt, cheese has a higher pH, more solid consistency, lower O2 concentration and a higher buffering capacity, which protects the probiotic bacteria in the gastric juice. Moreover, a low cooking temperature during cheesemaking, high minimum pH, low oxygen and salt content in the cheese combined with low storage temperature during maturation are optimal for survival of the probiotic bacteria. Interest in adding probiotic bacteria to cheese has been increasing the last decade.Probiotic bacteria are normally added together with the starter culture for Cottage cheese.The recommended level of probiotics could be readily obtained via cheese. For example, if a cheese contains 108 CFU/g, an appropriate serving would be 10 g of cheese.
Sauerkraut is one of the good sources of probiotics. The probiotic strain was able to grow in the blanched cabbage without nutrient supplementation racing counts of about 8 log in brine. The probiotic population remained steady during the 30-day vacuum package storage at 4 °C.
Recommended read: How to make Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
Natto (fermented soy beans)
Natto is a popular fermented soybean dish in Japan with a characteristic stringy consistency. Natto contains the extremely powerful probiotic Bacillus subtills (also known to be Bacillus natto), which has been proven to boost your immune system, support cardiovascular health and enhance digestion of vitamin K.
Tempeh is a traditional fermented soy product originating from Indonesia. The primary probiotic in tempeh is Rhizopus oliogsporus which produces a natural antibiotic against enteric pathogens and produces phytase which helps to break down phytate acid which increases the absorption of minerals.
Kombucha is a fermented black tea that contains a high amount of probiotics. Some of the Kombucha contains up to 30% Lactobacillus. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries, and it believed to help increase your energy, enhance your wellbeing, and maybe even help you lose weight. However, kombucha tea may not be for everyone, especially those who have had problems with candida.
Recommended read: How to make Kombucha Tea: Recipe and Tutorial
Miso is a traditional Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Miso has been a staple in Japanese diets dating back approximately 2,500 years. Miso is made from fermented soybeans, rice or barley. A tablespoon of miso to hot water makes an excellent, quick and probiotic-rich soup. Today, most of the Japanese population begins their day with a warm bowl of miso soup believed to stimulate the digestion system and energize the body.
Recommended read: 15-Minute Miso Soup with Greens and Tofu
Fermented olive products also help introduce beneficial organism to our bodies. For example, an olive of the Gordal variety may have as many as 100 billion Lactobacilli residing on its surface. Moreover, the brine also allows the probiotic cultures to thrive.
Recommended read: How to cure green olives
Kimchi is a popular side dish in Korea. It is made with Chinese cabbage mixed with a host of seasonings and ingredients such as ginger, garlic, onion, hot pepper flakes and salt. Kimchi is fermented with natural bacteria. The most dominant ones are probiotic LABs. Research shows that probiotic properties of kimchi make it a good food remedy with anticancer, ant-obesity, anti-constipation and anti-aging benefits.
Recommended read: How to make Napa cabbage kimchi
|Acidophilus milk||Lactobacillus acidophilus|
|Fermented milk||Enterococcus faecium
|Fermented vegetables||Lactobacillus sp.|
|Fermented soy products||Rhizopus oliogsporus|
Table 2. Probiotic products available in the market with lactic acid bacteria supplementation
The market for probiotics is the second largest market for microencapsulated ingredients. The global market for probiotic products is more than USD 15 billion now. A good probiotic supplement is essential for long-term intestinal health. It is especially important for people with special needs such as those who are recovering from digestion problems and other diseases. The concentrated and dried bacteria are packed as dietary supplements in powder, capsules and tablet forms, and delivered at a range of doses. There are two factors to be considered in choosing probiotic supplements: the use of effective strains and delivery system.
First of all, choose a supplement that contains at least one billion live organisms per daily dose. Secondly, the best probiotic supplement is not the one with the most beneficial bacteria count, but the one includes a number of different strains of probiotics. Good probiotic supplements should include at least three most important strain: L. acidophilus, B. Longum, and B. Bifidum.
Thirdly, the spectrum of probiotics needs to be delivery by a proper system. A good delivery system makes sure that the probiotic bacteria remain alive and healthy while on the shelves and reach your gut where they need to be the most effective. Microencapsulation should also impart a degree of controlled or targeted release across the small and large intestines.
Last but not the least, the probiotic supplement should be packed in proper containers. Products should be stored in sealed containers and away from heat, light and humidity. In addition, if a label indicates that a product should be refrigerated, it should always be stored in the refrigerator.
Recommended Probiotics Supplements
What are the well-known probiotics?
This is the most important strain of Lactobacillus species. The name of the LABs means acid-loving, indicating the preference of this species for an acid medium for growth. Strains of this species usually display a rod shape with rounded ends and occur single, in pairs and in short chains. This strain was found in the intestinal tract of man and animal, human mouth, but are also easily found in milk and dairy products. It colonizes most densely in the small intestine, where it helps maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall, ensure proper nutrition absorption, support healthy overall digestive function, boosts immune system and supports vaginal health in women.
Lactobacillus Casei & Paracasei
These two species are presented together because they are closely related and their nomenclatural status have been discussed for a long time and only recently solved. The name casei indicate the origin of the species in cheese and dairy products in general, but it has also been isolated from sourdough, silage and human GI tract. It helps support a healthy immune system. It can also reduce the rate and risk of bacterial infections. It has also been administered safely and with a positive result to critically ill children suffering from diarrhea.
This is one of the four good bacteria species typically found in infants. B. bifidum is the predominant organism in the intestinal flora and establishes a healthy environment for the manufacture of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin K. B. bifidum has proved useful in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver and chronic pepatitis; by improving digestion, it reduces the strain on the liver. Many people who do not respond to L. acidophilus react positively to B. bifidum. Many experts consider B. bifidum to be preferable to L. acidophilus for children and for adults with liver disorders.
Similar to other Bifidobacterium bacteria, B. longum carries a variety of benefits. It also helps reduce gastrointestinal discomfort caused by stress. It may also attenuate anxiety, and possibly reduce the risk for colon cancer. The best benefit of this strain is its ability to smooth irritation in the body.
Image. (Left to right) L. acidophilus, L. casei, B. bifidum, B. longum.
Side Effects & Dangers of Probiotics
While the benefits of probiotics have been widely researched on and advertised, it is necessary to know the risks associated with the use of probiotics. Safety is an important requirement for probiotics. All microbes can be classified according to their relative safety into three groups: non-pathogenic, opportunistic pathogen and pathogens. Most intestinal microorganisms are not pathogenic in healthy individuals. These microbes result in a symbiosis between the host and the microbe. Pathogenic microbes are the smallest of the three classes, and they can potentially cause an infection in a healthy host. Probiotics always belong to the non-pathogenic groups.
Evidence suggests that healthy adults are not vulnerable to any type of health risks from probiotics. However, certain risks do exist with the use of probiotics in some cases.
- The health problems related to probiotics have been largely seen in an individual whose immune system has been compromised in some way. As a result, probiotic related health problems are almost exclusively seen in immune depressed individuals, either adults or children.
- The health problems arise from the use of probiotics may become highly complicated and even lead to fatalities in some cases. However, this is most probably due to the pre-existing underlying medical conditions rather than the use of the probiotics.
- Pregnant women also need to cautious when taking probiotics. Advice from your doctor is always recommended before taking any probiotic supplement.
- You are altering the micro-ecology of your gut when you ingest probiotics. This may involve some metabolic risk and lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Such cases are very rare and often temporary.
- In some cases, people develop allergic reactions to probiotics and a case of anaphylaxis has been reported. So if you are allergic to dairy but consume yogurt for the probiotics, you will end up with allergies.
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