First of all: probiotics is just the plural form of probiotic (props to everyone who already knew that #Lainesethank you). But now seriously: As a probiotic (gr. pro bios = 'for life'), living microorganisms (e.g.B Bacteria or fungi) that multiply in the gut and mediate health benefits to the host. That might sound a bit gross at first, but it's actually the opposite: when probiotics get into our intestines in sufficient quantities, it is associated with many health benefits.
But not every "good" bacterium is a probiotic. Here are a few criteria that must be met in order for a bacterial strain (or bacterial strains) to be labeled as a probiotic:
- Proof of a health-promoting effect
- Survival of the gastric passage and ability to reproduce in the intestine
- Production of lactic acid and other substances with bacteriostatic or bactericidal effects
- Proof of genetic stability in order to be able to rule out disease-causing mutations, i.e. changes
Fortunately, we have our first contact with probiotic bacterial strains when we are born. If this were not the case, we would have immense health problems as children. In a normal birth, this happens through the mother's vaginal flora, in the case of a caesarean section, this happens at the latest through the administration of breast milk (another reason why breast milk is so important).
What are probiotics good for?
While they already have vital functions for us as children, probiotics also support us fundamentally in adulthood. May we introduce - the little helpers in our intestines that have probably been underestimated up to now:
- They activate our immune response when our immune system is under attack (by stimulating the production of T cells).
- They work against allergies, skin diseases and asthma by not allowing our immune system to overreact (to harmless foreign bodies).
- They have an antibacterial effect.
- They counteract food intolerance, because a healthy intestinal flora protects our intestinal mucosa and therefore prevents a so-called. Leaky Gut before.
- They reduce the stress hormone level by preventing the formation of the stress hormone cortisol (less cortisol → less stress felt → more health & well-being)
It's all in the mix:
Probiotics themselves have many health benefits if we take them in the right amount - i.e. enough of them. However, the best effect occurs when you combine a probiotic with a prebiotic. This then results in a synbiotic (lat. syn = together, together). As the word implies, a synbiotic has significantly better effects on our gut than a probiotic or prebiotic alone. You can imagine it like this: the “good” bacteria in our intestines are the probiotics. But in order for them to work hard and support your intestines, they need energy. And that's exactly what they get from the prebiotics. These substances are basically the food for the probiotics. If you take a synbiotic, you create the perfect basic conditions for the many little helpers in your intestines!
Where are probiotics found?
Probiotics are found in some foods. Mother Nature hasn't completely failed us when it comes to probiotics and prebiotics, however, the concentration of bacteria in probiotic foods is much lower than in supplements (often as little as 1/100th). This concentration is measured in colony forming units (CFUs), which is a measure of the amount of living microorganisms.
The most well-known probiotic bacteria are lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, enterococci and yeasts. These are found in yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso, among others. In general, fermented foods usually contain probiotics.
Probiotic foodsl, include:
- Dairy products, such as: natural yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk, cheese
- Fermented foodsl, such as: sauerkraut, kimchi, miso
- apple cider vinegar and yeast
Prebiotic foods include:
- Whole grain products, such as pumpernickel, whole grain bread
- fruit, like: apples and bananas
- Vegetables, such as: asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, salsify, chicory, onions, garlic
- Seeds and nuts, such as: linseed and psyllium
We hope that with this blog post we were able to give you an overview of the topic of probiotics and that you are now aware of how important these little helpers are for your intestines. Because of course the following applies: Happy Gut, Happy You!