The word “probiotic” comes from the combination of a Latin proposition and a Greek word—‘pro’ meaning encouraging, in favor of something and ‘bio’ meaning life. Probiotics, essentially, are the live bacteria and yeast which are beneficial to humans and are ingested to populate the intestines. It was an observation made by Dr. Elie Metchnikoff that when Bulgarian farmers took yogurt on a regular basis, they ended up living longer. It was this observation that initiated interest in the subject. All the probiotic yogurt benefits have come to be known as the ‘yogurt effect’.
How probiotics work
During any antibiotic treatment, both useful and harmful bacteria are killed off. The discomfort that one feels in the stomach is due to the lack of beneficial action of helpful bacteria. The exact method or mode of working of probiotics is not exactly clear. Essentially, they replace the dead and lost good bacteria and bring their population to normal levels. The good ones can overpopulate the sites in the intestines and push out the harmful ones too. This explains their curative and preventive action. In research, it has been observed that people who are given probiotics have shown improved leucocyte count, indicating a good immune response.
There are many bacteria used as probiotics that provide different benefits. Principally, they belong to two groups and it is important that one consults the doctor to choose the right bacteria to serve one’s needs. They are not totally known to not produce side effects. Mild flatulence, bloating of abdomen, and diarrhea has been reported in the past. Generally, they pass off on continued use. However, they are reported to kick off allergic reactions and if it does happen to you, then you should stop their use immediately. It is prudent to keep your doctor in the know-how of adverse reactions. Other troublesome conditions of digestive system like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease are not easily amenable to treatment. These conditions along the more mundane ones like antibiotic-related diarrhea and infectious diarrhea can be cured with probiotics.
Other uses of probiotics
The digestive system is not the only domain where probiotics work. They find an effective application in the management of urinary and vaginal health. A regular use of probiotics has been found to be beneficial in urinary tract infections. These bacteria overpopulate the sites for bacterial attachment and crowd the harmful ones out of the track curing the infection. The vaginal tract supports a whole lot of bacteria. A chronic bacterial infection allows yeast to establish a foothold in this tract leading to yeast infection, which is very disturbing. An appropriate probiotic treatment helps to eliminate the bothersome condition.