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What are probiotics?
The gastrointestinal tract is inhabited by a mass of microorganisms called the microbiota, which support digestion and immune system health. The term ‘probiotic’ describes the families of ‘good’ microorganisms (bacteria). These resident bacteria are established from birth and play a huge role in bowel health and overall wellbeing. Probiotics are thought to restore intestinal microbial balance by competing with ‘bad’ bacteria for space and nutrients. They are also thought to support immunity by producing lactic acid and reuterin.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are the food for the probiotics – specialised plant ﬁbres that nourish the good bacteria already in the large bowel or colon. They are found in lots of vegetables, legumes and ﬁbres.
Why should we take probiotics?
Factors like taking antibiotics, poor diet, illness and chronic diarrhoea can disrupt the balance between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ bacteria. Research is promising for the use of probiotics in supporting traveller’s tummies, and respiratory tract in children. Another new and exciting area where probiotics may be of assistance is in the body’s response to allergens.
What’s the best way to ingest them?
Many of the foods we eat contain probiotics, including cultured milk products, miso, sauerkraut and yoghurt. When we don’t eat these foods in high enough amounts to get an adequate intake, probiotic supplements are recommended.
Probiotics are also important for vaginal health
Healthy vaginal ﬂora act as a ﬁrst line of defence against pathogens. A vaginal imbalance can occur when the dominant bacteria in the vagina, Lactobacilli, are overtaken by other bacteria or fungal microorganisms. Common predisposing factors that can alter the vaginal ﬂora include taking medications such as antibiotics, increased hormone levels and poor immunity.
Do you have concerns about your gut health?
Talk to your Unichem or Life Pharmacist to ﬁnd out whether taking probiotics may be right for you.