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Probiotics - Helpful Bacteria That Keep Our Gut Healthy

Published on Nov 01, 2016 and last reviewed on Dec 28, 2022   -  4 min read


Most people think bacteria and other microorganisms are harmful germs, but many microorganisms help our bodies function properly. Probiotics fall into this category, and this article discusses the importance of probiotics.

Probiotics - Helpful Bacteria That Keep Our Gut Healthy


The definition given by the World Health Organization (WHO) for probiotics is "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."

Most people think that bacterias are always harmful and cause diseases; however, it is not completely true because some bacteria are needed by the body for digesting certain kinds of foods, making vitamins, and killing disease-causing cells.

Probiotics are called good and helpful bacteria. The meaning of probiotics is "for life" (pro-biota). Probiotics have been in our system right from the moment of formation of the fetus in the birth canal. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are good for health, especially the digestive system, to keep our gut healthy.

Where Are Probiotics Found?

Probiotics are found naturally in the body and are also available as food supplements in the form of capsules, liquids, chewable, and skin creams.

It is the third most commonly used dietary supplement after vitamins and minerals.

What Are the Types of Probiotics?

There are many types of probiotics available. The most important and commonly used probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

1. Lactobacillus:

The most common probiotic found in yogurt helps with diarrhea and lactose intolerance.

2. Bifidobacterium:

It is found in some dairy products and helps with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome which is characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation) and other conditions.

Which Food Contains Natural Probiotics?

Probiotics are found naturally in some food products. Examples are listed below:

  • Pickles.

  • Yogurt.

  • Kimchi.

  • Sauerkraut.

How Do Probiotics Work?

A problem in the digestive system affects every physiological system in our body. Many toxins we are subjected to in our current environment can affect the function of the digestive system and our ability to utilize nutrients. Our gut has approximately 85 % good bacteria and 15 % bad bacteria. When the ratio gets out of balance, probiotic-rich food and supplements help improve the ratio.

Excessive intake of antibiotics, a high carbohydrate diet, non-organic meat, sugar, tap water, GMO foods (genetically-modified foods), grains, emotional stress, etc., can kill the probiotics in our body. Over a period, the damage to the digestive tract increases the need for probiotics supplements.

What Are the Uses of Probiotics?

The uses of probiotics are discussed below:

  • It will help move food through the gut in IBS, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease - inflammation in some parts of the intestine), diarrhea, fight food-borne infections, and Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) infection.

  • It also helps in conditions like eczema.

  • Probiotics are helpful in maintaining urogenital health and restoring the balance of microflora of the vagina (yogurt is used as a folk remedy with limited support) and are also helpful in urinary tract infections.

  • It can reduce the risk of certain recurrent common infectious diseases.

  • It will reduce crying time in colicky babies.

  • It is beneficial for brain function, and it improves immunity function.

  • Lactobacillus probiotics are very useful in reducing bad cholesterol levels that is LDL and blood pressure.

  • It also prevents allergies and colds and maintains good oral health.

What Are the Side Effects of Probiotics?

Probiotics are not all alike. The effect of probiotics varies from person to person. Although some probiotic formulations have shown scientific evidence to support the uses of probiotics, for most conditions, it is lacking. Information on long-term safety is limited. The common side effect of probiotics is diarrhea. The risk of serious side effects may be higher in people who have underlying health conditions. Though considered safe, there is a theoretical risk for people with impaired immune function.

What Is the Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms found in certain foods and supplements that are meant to maintain or enhance the body's normal microflora, or good bacteria. Prebiotics are diets that feed the human microbiota, often high-fiber meals. The goal of using prebiotics is to enhance the balance of these microbes.

To conclude, probiotics are good microorganisms that can be found in some meals or supplements. Prebiotics provide food for the good bacteria in the digestive system, and these are usually those fibers that are found in vegetables, fruits, and legumes. These types of fiber are digested by the good bacteria of the digestive system.

In addition, there are some products available called synbiotics which are a combination of probiotics and prebiotics.

Is It Good to Take Probiotic Supplements?

Probiotic supplements are nowadays gaining popularity, and everyone wants to take them. These supplements are available in the form of tablets, powders, or liquids. Recently chewable gummies have been introduced into the market. These chew gummies are a good option for those kids who do not like to take tablets, powder, or liquid.

According to a survey, the third most popular dietary supplement among adults, after vitamins and minerals, was probiotics.

However, while taking these supplements, one should be aware of the fact that not all the probiotics supplements available on the market contain the same concentration of bacteria. All the prebiotic supplements do not work the same way. If individuals feel uncomfortable after taking this supplement, they should discontinue it.

On the other hand, the probiotic supplement should be taken on the advice of a healthcare professional only and should not be taken on their own just by getting fascinated with a probiotic advertisement that claims to improve health. This is because not everyone requires a prebiotic supplement, and not every supplement contains the same strain of bacteria.


To conclude, probiotics are considered to be a good health supplement for improving health conditions; however, more research still needs to be carried out to prove their efficacy. Some studies have shown that these supplements have improved some medical conditions, but it has not been proved that all probiotics supplements are good. Therefore, a healthcare provider should be approached before starting these supplements.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is It Good to Take Probiotics Every Day?

You can take probiotics every day because it is a natural supplement and not a medicine. It is safe and does not cause any harmful effects on the body, so it is recommended to be taken daily.


Which Is the Suitable Form of Probiotic to Take?

The best form of probiotic to take is the Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces boulardii.


How To Know That You Require Probiotics?

The signs that you need probiotics are:
Suppose you have taken antibiotics, it usually kills all the bacteria in the gut. Therefore taking probiotics after an antibiotic therapy will help you put the normal bacterial flora back into the gut.
- Food poisoning.
- Upset stomach.
- Mood issues.
- Yeast overgrowth.
- If you are often feeling sick, it is good to take probiotics.
- Skin diseases.
- Digestive irregularity.
- When sugar cravings are out of control.
- Slow metabolism.
- Skin issues like psoriasis, eczema, and itchy rashes.


What Are the Fruits That Contain Probiotics?

The fruits that contain probiotics are:
- Green banana.
- Apples.
- Blueberries.
- Watermelon.
- Grapefruit.
- Raspberries.
- Mangoes.
- Pears.
- Kiwi.
- Avocado.
- Oranges.


What Are the Contraindications for Taking Probiotics?

The people who are immunocompromised and those under treatment for cancer should not take probiotics without the doctor's opinion.


Which Is Better - Taking Probiotics or Eating Yogurt?

Yogurt is a good probiotic, but if you are allergic to dairy products, then supplements are a better choice. Probiotics can be taken even on an empty stomach. Probiotic pills have a longer shelf life than yogurt, but do not offer other nutrients and minerals like yogurt.


Can Probiotics Help With Belly Fat?

Studies have proved that taking probiotics like strains of Lactobacillus can help reduce belly fat. The probiotics will reduce the total number of calories that are absorbed from the food, and also affects the proteins and hormones that are related to fat storage and appetite.


Is Apple Cider Vinegar a Probiotic?

Probiotics restore the beneficial bacteria inside your gut. Apple cider vinegar is not a probiotic, but it is a prebiotic. The term prebiotic means the origin of nourishment in the fermented food, which is the food for the good bacteria present in the gut. Therefore, in simple words, prebiotics promote the flourishing of the gut's good bacteria.


Which Is the Best Natural Probiotic?

The best natural probiotics are:
- Yogurt.
- Kombucha.
- Kefir.
- Pickles.
- Miso.
- Sauerkraut.
- Kimchi.
- Dark chocolates.
- Tempeh.
- Green olives.


Which Probiotic is Helpful in Weight Loss?

Several types of strains are there in both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families, which helps reduce belly fat and weight. But Lactobacillus gasseri is the most effective strain, which helps reduce weight.


What Will Happen When You Take Probiotics?

While using probiotics, a few people may initially experience side effects related to digestion like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This may be due to some gut microbiota changes where the bacteria will produce more gas than usual, leading to bloating. These side effects will get resolved, and digestion will be improved within a few days to weeks after taking probiotics.


What Is the Sign That Probiotic Is Working?

The signs that probiotic is working are positive changes in the body like:
- Improved digestion.
- Improved mood.
- Clearer skin.
- More energy.


When Should You Take Probiotics, Morning or at Night?

It would be best if you take probiotics early in the morning on an empty stomach, and it should be taken at the same time every day.


Can Probiotics Make You Poop?

The increase in the number of good bacteria after taking probiotics will help detoxify the digestive system and absorb more nutrients efficiently. But the probiotics, which contain a mix of bacteria, will increase the frequency of bowel movement and improve constipation symptoms like stomach pain, incomplete evacuation, and straining.


How Long Can Probiotics Stay in Your Body?

The probiotics appear to stay only for a short period in your gut; therefore, you should continue taking them for a good result. If you stop continuing them, the gut may return to its pre-supplementation state within one to three weeks.


Can the Long Term Use of Probiotics Be Dangerous?

The long term use of probiotics may be dangerous and cause side effects like:
- Increased risk of infection.
- Increase in the histamine levels by some strains.
- Adverse reactions like allergy or intolerance.
- Unpleasant digestive symptoms.
- Amines in the probiotics can cause headaches.
- Production of harmful substances by the microorganisms in the probiotics.

Last reviewed at:
28 Dec 2022  -  4 min read




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