In recent years, products containing probiotics literally have filled up the shop shelves. As more and more people are looking for natural ways to maintain their health, manufacturers started to add probiotics to everything they could, from yogurt and chocolate bars to powders and tablets.
Although, probiotics have been on offer for several generations – in a form of yogurts, they weren’t so popular as they are today. Nowadays, there is a huge number of products with probiotics, and they attract even most conscientious buyers. To be truth, the industry develops faster than the research, so scientists and doctors now advocate for more researches to determine which probiotics are useful and which are a waste of money.
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS ?
Probiotics are useful microorganisms, which:
- boost the immune system;
- strengthen the bowel functioning;
- reduce the growth of potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms;
- help to maintain the normal flora of the intestines during the antibiotic treatment;
- help to produce B vitamins, essential for the metabolism;
- prevent anemia that occurs as a result of lack of B6 and B12 vitamins;
- maintain nervous system functioning and healthy skin condition;
- protect our DNA;
- reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, allergy.
Most probiotics can be divided into two groups: Bifidobacteria and Lactobacteria. They perform different functions and both are essentially important for the normal functioning of our body. The natural source of probiotics are fermented milk products.
ARE PROBIOTICS SAFE ?
It is believed that most probiotics are safe, although it is not enough information if they are safe for patients with severely impaired immune system. They can be consumed by people who do not have the problem with the digestive system.
However, before adding probiotics to your diet, you should consult your doctor. Not all probiotics may be appropriate for the elderly people. Some of them may interfere with the action of certain medications. On the basis of your medical history a doctor can help you to determine probiotics, which will be useful for you.
In recent years, the number of studies concerning the impact of probiotics on children have increased. In general the results are positive, but anyway it’s recommended to consult a healthcare provider before giving your child probiotics. Remember that while breastfeeding there is no need in probiotics as breast milk promotes the growth of normal intestinal flora, which is essential for the development of the immune and digestive systems of children.
Mind the fact that probiotics are considered to be biologically active supplements and, despite the drugs, they are not regulated by FDA. They are not standardized, i.e. they are produced by various companies and the effect depends on a brand. Probiotics also vary in their price, and very often price doesn’t reflect the quality.
Side effects can also be different. The most common are bloating and flatulence. More serious side effects include allergic reactions on probiotics or food ingredients/supplement which were combined with probiotics.
HOW TO CHOOSE PROBIOTICS ?
Probiotics are produced in the form of yoghurts and other dairy products, chocolate, cereals, snacks, juices, in the form of powders and capsules. You can buy them at your local supermarket or health food store and online. Here are some tips to help you choose probiotics.
Examine the label. The more information it contains, the better. Ideally, the label should inform you about the kinds of strains of probiotic microorganisms the product contain. As some brands guarantee a certain number of microorganisms in the product at the moment of its production, often it is not clear how many of them will be alive during the consumption.
Call the manufacturer. Unfortunately, many labels do not provide customers with the information about the full list of kinds of strains the product contains. Many of the brands point only to a list of such strains as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. If you plan to take probiotics for specific purposes, call the manufacturer or look for this information on the website of the company.
Beware of online ordering. If you order a product over the Internet, make sure you know that company is real. Read the reviews on the web-site of the company and learn all the information carefully.
Deal with a reputable and well-known companies. The longer the company exists, the more likely its products are monitored and studied. Each company has its reputation, so find all about it.
ABOUT THE STORAGE
Do not forget to store the probiotics according to the instructions, you may find on the package and make sure the product has a shelf life.
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