Do you know what Probiotic is? Probiotics may be a new word to some of you; for others, it might sound familiar. I heard about Probiotics couple of years back, when Dannon launched Activia in January 2006. Activia is low-fat yogurt that contains Bifidus Regularis, a probiotic culture. Before launching ofActivia, probiotics were known by a small percentage of the population and was concentrated mainly among natural product shoppers and healthcare professionals. After Dannon’s yogurt launch, probiotics stepped into the limelight and have started to gain awareness.
Natural Marketing Institute’s (NMI) Health and Wellness Trends Survey (2008 HWTD) reported that U.S. general population awareness of the term “probiotics” skyrocketed in 2008 to 48% up from 31% in 2007, which was just 20% in 2006.
S.K. Dash, Ph.D., President and Director of Research at UAS Labs says “Consumers are beginning to understand that probiotics are more important than multivitamins and should be taken daily.”
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in your gastro intestinal tract. They are also referred as “friendly bacteria”, “gut flora”, or “micro flora” which when ingested acts to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease. In fact you have been consuming probiotics all of your life without realizing it. For example, fermented foods such as Yoghurt and Kefir are sources of beneficial bacteria, a probiotic, which your body requires for health.
Why do I need probiotics?
A healthy lower intestine should contain at least 80-85% friendly bacteria or probiotics to prevent growth of disease causing micro-organisms like E. coli and salmonella, in intestine.
Poor eating habits, chlorinated drinking water, stress, use of antibiotics, medical treatments can destroy the gastrointestinal micro flora and allow harmful bacteria to multiply. Thus, make the body susceptible to yeast and bacterial infection and other disorders including gas, cramping, or diarrhea.
Probiotic supplements contain millions to billions of live bacteria to bolster and replenish levels of health promoting good microbes in your digestive tract.
What are major benefits of probiotic products or supplements?
Probiotic products are available in different formulations with Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Enterococcus faecium and other beneficial bacteria.
The major benefits that probiotic products offer are as follows:
- Inhibit the growth...
of harmful bacteria that cause digestive stress
- Help reduce the risk of certain diarrheal illnesses
- Digest foods and improve digestive disorders
- Enhance synthesis of vitamin B and improve absorption of calcium
- Promotes vagina health and keeps yeast in check
- Enhance the immune function
- Assist lactose intolerant people with lactose digestion
What are different types of probiotics available in the market?
The most numerous probiotic bacteria normally present in the small intestine are species of Lactobacilli. In the colon the majority are mainly Bifidobacteria. Most probiotic products consist of one or more species of bacteria from one or both of these types. Below is the list of few microbial strains or probiotics that have been shown to boost health in scientific studies.
What is CFU and how much do I need it in day?
For general good health, most experts recommend between 6 to 10 billion CFU each day. For a specific minor health problem a dose of around 20 to 30 billion CFU is often used. Take the dose suggested on the label of product or supplement. For a right dose and selection of probiotics, I would encourage you to discuss with a personal health professional.
Probiotics are already present in our normal digestive system and generally recognized as safe (GRAS). But your awareness is necessary to choose the right product for you. As a matter of fact, in the United States, most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements; therefore they do not undergo the testing and approval process from FDA, unlike drugs. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure there products are safe and the claims made on the label are true. You must be aware, if the types of bacteria listed on a label are actually effective for your health condition.
Here is a book “The Consumer’s Guide to Probiotics” written by Dr. S.K. Dash, the pioneer of probiotic research.