There are about trillions of bacteria housing in our body, both good and bad. It’s in the mouth, gut, skin and vaginal area. The good bacteria help improve our digestion, boost our immune system, fight against outside infections and keeping our vagina healthy and happy. Probiotic are good bacteria that help keep the bad bacteria in check. It’s crucial to maintain the balance of both good and bad bacteria as it can potentially cause problems like diarrhoea, constipation and vaginal infection. Certain strain of probiotics were also found to be beneficial to heart and mental health and reducing risk of allergies and eczema. Balance of microbiome in our body may be altered by various factors such as dietary habits, lifestyle, exposure to toxins and exposure to medications such as antibiotics.
There are various probiotic supplement available in the market. Probiotics supplement differ in the diversity of strains it contained and optimal dosage should be aimed at least 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per species. Probiotic supplements may be combined with a prebiotic. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that feed the microorganisms in your gut. Basically, prebiotics are the 'food source' for the good bacteria. They help feed the good bacteria and keep it healthy. Prebiotics include inulin, pectin and resistant starches. When you have a supplement that combines a probiotic and prebiotic, it’s called a synbiotic.
Probiotics can be found naturally in fermented foods such as yoghurt, cheese, pickles, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, miso and tempeh or in the form of supplement. Even though probiotics are generally safe but caution is advised in patients with weakened immune system. Probiotics has been used in various conditions such as acute viral gastroenteritis, antibiotic- associated diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose-intolerance, chronic constipation, urinary tract infection and vaginal infection.
Prebiotics on the other hand are non-living food ingredients (mostly fibre) that act to feed the good bacteria in our gut. It naturally found in many foods including garlic, asparagus, legumes, whole grains, cabbage and banana. Probiotics are living bacteria that help to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria in our gut. Having a combination of pre- and probiotic- rich foods can help our bodies maintain a good bacteria to support healthy digestive, immune and reproductive system.