Although probiotics have been with us for as long as people have eaten fermented milk, but their association with health benefits only came to existence when Metchnikoff drew attention to diverse effects of some gut flora. Probiotics are the live microorganisms that offer health benefits to humans by improving gut’s microbial balance. People often think that bacteria or other microorganisms are ‘harmful germs’, but only a few know that many microorganisms play key role in improving metabolic functions of the body. Example: the bacteria that are present in our gut flora are helpful in food digestion and also destroy disease-causing microorganisms and produce vitamins. Similarly many such good bacteria are present in other parts of our body such as pharynx, vaginal tract. Now a days, modern diets and change in lifestyle, change in the environment and increasing pollution, has forced people to look forward more towards antibiotics in order to remain healthy. But a very few are aware that overuse of antibiotics is harmful for gut micro flora and thus can lead to increased incidence in metabolic diseases. Therefore to balance this loss, probiotics are in action. Probiotics restore the body’s healthy bacterial population. At present among many other healthcare issues, antibiotic resistance is one of the major issues that need to be combated. Therefore one must avoid antibiotics until and unless prescribed by physicians. Many microorganisms in probiotic products are same as or similar to microorganisms that normally live in our body.
Worldwide diverse array of probiotic products are available in the market both as food and dietary supplements. Yoghurt is the most common probiotic carrying food. Cheese, fermented and unfermented juices, nutrition bars, all are food vehicles for probiotic delivery. On the other hand, probiotics sold as dietary supplements consists of concentrated and dried microbes packed in capsules or sachets. Many researchers have been working on probiotics since long time and they found that probiotics can help prevent and can also treat a variety of ailments such as digestive disorders, allergic disorder (such as eczema), colic in infants, lactose intolerance, oral health problems and many more. Many different strains of probiotic organisms are used such ad lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and many more, which are different from each other but have overlapping benefits. Safety of probiotics depends on the state of your health. In people who are generally healthy, probiotics have a good safety record and if they occur then they are very mild like gas. However, there have been reports of severe side effects in people having serious underlying medical problems.
Although probiotics do contribute to promote balanced digestive system but their impact is actually minimal. Hence probiotics can be combined with prebiotics to enhance the effectiveness of probiotics. Future studies and research on probiotics can serve to alleviate and prevent multiple intestinal disorders that are now a day’s affecting all age groups. Further characterization of gut can be beneficial to determine more optimal combinations of probiotics to restore intestinal dysbiosis in a specific disease.