Probiotics are helpful microorganisms that may promote intestinal health and reduce digestive problems caused by health conditions, stress or poor diet. Your intestines are normally occupied with helpful microbes, and using probiotics can maintain the balance of this normal microbial flora.
The word â€œprobioticâ€ means â€œfor life,â€ which is why these microflora are so important. The scientific definition of a probiotic is: A live microbial feed supplement that beneficially affects the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance.
Probiotics are a type of live bacteria that help balance and fight unhealthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, often referred to as the gut. Probiotics work by colonizing the small intestine and crowding out disease-causing organisms, thereby restoring proper balance to the intestinal flora.
The nature of human digestion creates a daily battle between good bacteria (probiotics) and bad bacteria (pathogens, yeast and fungi) in the GI tract.
Probiotics are believed to protect us in two ways. The first is the role they play in the digestive tract, where a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria is vital. Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse and environmental influences are among things that can shift the balance in favor of bad bacteria.
When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals and other waste products. On the flip side, the digestive tract absorbs nutrients from food and water and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.
The idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain and fatigue.
The other way that probiotics may help is the impact they have on the immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesnâ€™t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders and infections.