We’ve all heard about probiotics and their benefits, but do we really know what we’re talking about? Here is a synopsis to finally sort out the truth from the lies!
What are they?
We generally perceive bacteria as hostile microorganisms and sources of disease. But there are actually two types of bacteria: Good and bad.
Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “useful” bacteria. They are living microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate quantities, can be beneficial to your health.
What are their benefits?
- Improve digestion and absorption of nutrients: Probiotics help digest proteins and lipids and facilitate absorption of calcium, iron and phosphorus.
- Reduce diarrhoea linked to gastroenteritis by inhibiting the bacteria responsible for clinging to the stomach lining.
- Reduce the risk of developing certain infectious diseases
- Improve lactose tolerance
- Improve the immune function
- Restore the balance of intestinal and vaginal microbial flora.
Some studies also report that some probiotics may play a role in reducing the development of childhood allergies, decreasing colonization of the stomach by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium and decreasing the chance of a relapse from certain inflammatory bowel disorders.
Where to find them?
Probiotics are naturally present in:
- Fermented milks (kefir …)
- Fermented or cultivated dairy products (yogurts, aged cheeses …)
- Soy beverages
- Kimchi (recipe for cabbage fermented with spices)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Gherkins in vinegar
- Marinated olives
Bacteria are naturally found in these foods or have been added during their preparation. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements in capsule, tablet or powder form.
Tips: When you start taking probiotics, start with small doses and gradually increase to limit the side effects such as bloating, gas or mild intestinal irritation.