What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms beneficial to health, which act favoring the presence of good bacteria in the body and decrease the concentration of bad bacteria (pathogenic and putrefactive) and undesirable microorganisms.
Benefits of probiotics
The gastrointestinal tract is colonized by a huge range of bacteria, some of which are bad, but most beneficial and fundamental for good intestinal functioning.
The main forms of beneficial bacteria that colonize the small intestine are called lactobacilli. They have some benefits like:
- Create a protective layer between the intestinal wall and bolus, inhibiting intestinal colonization by bad (harmful) bacteria
- Help inhibit intestinal pH reduction
- Decrease competition for nutrients by harmful bacteria
- Increase intestinal antibody production
- Help detoxify heavy metals and other toxins
- Assist in the production of B complex vitamins
- They aid in the digestion of lactose.
Probiotics to fight disease
Thus, probiotics are microorganisms that help fight diseases such as:
- Help prevent diarrhea or make it faster and milder
- Reduce lactose intolerance, favoring the conversion of lactose into lactic acid
- Strengthen the immune system
- Help prevent colon cancer
- They help in improving the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and also in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Helps to improve food allergies
- Helps reduce cholesterol levels
- It helps to reduce the incidence of vaginal candidiasis and recurrent urinary infections.
If taken during pregnancy, it seems to reduce the incidence of atopic eczema and other allergic diseases to the child, in addition to reducing the intensity and duration of colic in newborns.
Some of the foods that have probiotics are:
- Cured olives
- Apple vinegar
How to consume
There are two ways to consume probiotics: through food as mentioned above or from supplements in capsules or sachets, which can be diluted in water or natural juices. It is recommended to consume foods with natural probiotics to consume at least once a day. In the case of supplements, It is recommended taking 30 minutes before or after breakfast.
What is the difference between prebiotic and probiotic?
Prebiotics are fibers that serve as ‘food’ for probiotics, favoring their survival and proliferation in the intestine. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that populate the intestine.
When is the best time to take probiotics?
When evaluating the ability of the Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium longum BB536 strains to colonize the intestinal environment of healthy individuals and modify the composition of the intestinal microbiota, an Italian study published in World Journal of Gastroenterology found that the time of their ingestion did not influence colonization. In fact, both probiotic strains were able to colonize the intestinal environment regardless of whether oral intake occurred pre- or postprandial.
The word prandial is used in relation to the meal, before or after the meal, pre- or postprandial, respectively. In the Italian study, volunteers took the probiotic either 30 minutes before breakfast or 30 minutes after breakfast, for 1 month.
While the supplementation schedule showed no change in the results, the researchers highlighted the positive impact of supplementation on the intestinal microbiota, as it caused the reduction of numerous pathogenic microorganisms (Firmicutes) and the increase in the amount of some beneficial bacteria by the end of the year.