The importance of probiotics in the diet

You certainly must have heard about probiotic foods. In recent years, products with this name have gained supermarket shelves and consumers’ tables. In addition, probiotics are always in the media as healthy foods to be included in the diet. However, not everyone knows the importance of these foods or how to find them.

What are probiotics?

The term probiotic comes from the Greek and means “pro-life”. In the past, probiotics were defined as microorganisms that, when ingested, help to regulate the intestinal flora. Over the years, the definition has been modified and, currently, a probiotic is a food or food supplement containing live microorganisms that bring benefits to the consumer.

The bacteria contained in probiotics are resistant to the action of gastric juice and manage to reach the intestine intact. There, they help in the digestive process and regulate the intestinal flora. The most common examples of probiotic bacteria are Lactobacillus, Streptococcus and Bifidobacteria.

What are the benefits of probiotics?

Over the years, our understanding of gut flora and the role of food in regulating it has greatly increased. Several studies show that maintaining a healthy intestinal flora brings many health benefits and can help prevent some chronic diseases, such as diabetes and some types of cancer of the digestive tract. Because of this, probiotics have gained importance as foods that help balance the intestinal flora.

Consuming these foods brings benefits such as:

– Improves digestion and prevents constipation .

– Improves gastric acidity, preventing gastritis and ulcers.

– Increases the absorption of vitamins and nutrients such as B vitamins, essential amino acids, calcium and iron .

– Strengthens the body’s immune system, as it stimulates the production of macrophages.

– Decreases the amount of pathogenic bacteria and protects the intestinal mucosa, preventing diseases such as excess gas , colitis and diverticulitis.

In addition to these benefits, probiotics are particularly important in patients on antibiotic treatment. These drugs destroy the intestinal flora, requiring the consumption of probiotics to replace it.

Another important benefit is the prevention of certain types of cancer. A study published in the scientific journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , coordinated by researcher Ingrid Wollowski, showed that the bacteria contained in probiotics help prevent genetic mutations that lead to the development of tumors, especially those that cause colon cancer .

probiotic foods

Nowadays there are many probiotic foods sold in specialty stores, supermarkets and even pharmacies. However, there are natural probiotics that you can include in your diet.
Among the most common are dairy products and derivatives, such as milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese, curd, fermented milk, and other derivatives.
Studies are also being conducted with other foods with probiotic potential, such as soy and fermented products (miso, tofu, tempeh), meat, fish, and seed and vegetable extracts.
In addition to consuming probiotics, it is important to have a healthy and balanced diet. There is no point in consuming probiotics if the rest of the diet does not favor the growth of beneficial bacteria.

The dose of probiotic also changes according to age group. In adults, the recommended dose is 5 billion colony forming units (CFU) per day for at least 5 days. This corresponds to eating 2 to 3 yogurts a day with probiotics. For children, experts have not yet established an exact amount, but studies show that probiotics can already be inserted into the child’s diet from 18 months of life.

Probiotics vs Prebiotics: What’s the Difference?

Another commonly encountered term is “prebiotic”. Prebiotics are fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Two examples of these fibers are fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. Foods with FOS are of plant origin and include tomatoes , onions , bananas , barley, oats , wheat and even honey. Inulin can be found in onions, asparagus and chicory root.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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