Probiotics are known for their benefits to human health, and therefore are contained, not only in many food products, but also in food supplements and dietetic foods. But what are probiotics and how can we satisfy our need for them?
What are probiotics?
Etymologically, the term probiotic is complex and comes from the Latin intention (ie the benefit) and the Greek adjective biotic (noun bios = life). Probiotics, in such a way- is life products. In accordance with the definition established by the FAO / WHO (Food and Agriculture Organization / World Health Organization), probiotic are- "live microorganisms (yeast or bacteria, mainly lactobacilli and bifidobacteria), which when administered in adequate amounts, provide health benefits for people.
What forms of probiotics exist?
The most famous probiotic products are dairy products, fermented milk, various types of sour milk and yogurt. Most of them contain lactic acid bacterias, Bifidobacterium (Bifidobacterium) and Lactobacillus (lactobacilli). Raw (unpasteurized) yogurt has a lot of bacteria. However, today, for security reasons, most yogurt is pasteurized, a process that eventually kills all bacteria.
Moreover, today, many of the probiotic strains in fermented milk products can not permanently colonize the gastrointestinal tract, and this condition is necessary in order to induce probiotic activity useful. It is believed that for the probiotics to be effective, they must "remain and multiply" in the ecosystem, ie in the intestine. Probiotic strains obtained from food can be maintained for relatively short periods of time, which can be up to two weeks after administration.
There are also indications that not all probiotic strains are identical in the intestine, which is apparently connected with their ability to interact with the environment (acid pH) of the stomach.
The positive effect of probiotics on health has caused the need for supplementation (specialty foods) in the form of capsules, tablets, powder or liquid form, wherein the probiotics are included in a larger amount than in conventional types of food. Obviously, the number of bacteria present in natural foods, may not be sufficient to colonize the gastrointestinal tract and for this purpose, food supplements can be used.
Dietary supplements containing probiotics are mainly lactic acid bacteria that are generally resistant to stress conditions which prevail in the human digestive system. Bifidobacteria, in contrast, are more sensitive and therefore are used less frequently.
The great advantage of dietary supplements is that they comprise different strains of probiotics, useful in different circumstances. Probiotic have a wide range of action and not all have the same properties.
This means that some probiotic strains are more useful in some diseases, while other less. Selection of an appropriate strain for each type of the disease is very important.
Are there any illnesses probiotics can help?
According to numerous testimonies, they are very important for the prevention and treatment of diarrhea caused by antibiotics, especially in children.
They also contribute to the prevention of traveler's diarrhea, and possibly prevent deterioration after rotavirus infection.
Probiotics help in many other digestive problems (such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, lactose intolerance) and, possibly, for the prevention and treatment of gynecological diseases (mycosis, vaginitis, cervicitis, cystitis)
They may also relieve the symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression.
Types of food additives:
• Powder: This type is used by adding water before use. The main reason for the use of probiotics in this form is that bacteria reach the gastrointestinal tract faster than any other method. It is mainly used for children and people who can not swallow capsules.
• The capsules are more common because of the ease of use and a wide range of products in this form. And, mainly due to the unique advantages, which have a capsule in which the contents are protected.
• Liquids: The problem with this form of probiotics is their short term consumption. Modern probiotic products in liquid form, such as dairy products that have a longer shelf life, but the need to be constantly cooled. The main drawback, however, is that companies that produce them, add preservatives to maintain the flavor or texture.