First and foremost, what are whole foods probiotics good for? They are beneficial bacteria that live in the intestine and improve the general health of our body.
With benefits such as: facilitating digestion and absorption of nutrients and strengthening the immune system.
Whole foods probiotics are those that, in addition to their nutritional action, demonstrate having beneficial physiological effects on the body.
Prebiotics and probiotics are the two most well-known and studied types of functional whole food ingredients that, despite acting differently, achieve a similar benefit: supporting intestinal health.
Probiotics and prebiotics can improve balance in the intestinal flora tract and protect it from certain infections, both digestive and general.
Probiotic foods are those that add a healthy complement to our diet. In addition to foods that naturally contain them, industries can manually: add them, removed them, increase and modify the quantity.
This “manipulation” it’s often done to ensure their effectiveness and functionality.
Among the fortified functional foods, you find most frequently in the market are milk, yogurts, juices, cereals, eggs, margarine, bread, and salt.
Other components that are most frequently added to these products are minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, selenium …), vitamins (A, D, E, C, folic acid …), fiber, fatty acids ( oleic, Omega 3, conjugated linoleic or CLA), antioxidant substances (isoflavones, carotenoids, selenium, Vitamin E), phytosterols (sterols and plant stanols), phytoestrogens, prebiotics, probiotics.
As we will see below, some of its benefits include improvements in growth and development in early childhood, regulation of metabolic processes in the body, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function, cognitive and mental performance, improvement of the physical state, and several others listed below.
When the gut flora is not balanced, which usually occurs after using antibiotics or when you don’t have a healthy and balanced diet.
The intestine ends up being populated by bad bacteria, which doesn’t help the immune system and leaves the body susceptible to diseases.
What are probiotics for?
Main benefits include:
- Combat and prevent intestinal diseases such as colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and intestinal inflammation
- Fight diseases such as cancer, candidiasis, hemorrhoids, and urinary infection
- Improve digestion and fight acidity
- Prevents and treats constipation and diarrhea, regulating intestinal transit;
- Increase in the absorption of nutrients, such as vitamin B, calcium, and iron
- Strengthens the immune system, by increasing the production of defense cells called macrophages
- Avoids the proliferation of bad bacteria in the intestine
- Helps digest lactose, especially in people with lactose intolerance
- Treats problems like obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension
- Prevent food allergies and intolerances
A healthy gut flora rich in probiotics begins from birth—especially when the baby is born by normal delivery and exclusively breastfed during the beginning of life.
When and how to take probiotics
There are two main ways to ingest probiotics: the first is done through increased food consumption with natural probiotics, such as yogurt or kefir, for example, and the other is through probiotic supplements.
1. Probiotic foods
Which are the most popular whole foods probiotics?
- Plain yogurt: This is the primary and easiest source of probiotics on the market, but there are also versions of flavored yogurts that keep the beneficial bacteria alive
- Kefir: A product fermented with yeast and bacteria, similar to yogurt, but with a higher amount of probiotics
- Fermented milk: These are special products that generally contain added lactobacillus, with Yakult being the most popular
- Kombucha: It’s a fermented drink made mainly from black tea
- Oriental products based on soy, legumes and vegetables such as Miso, Natto, Kimchi, which can be bought in specialized stores
- Sauerkraut: it is a culinary preparation that involves the fermentation of fresh cabbage or cabbage leaves
To maintain healthy intestinal flora, it is advisable to consume at least 1 food source of probiotics per day, especially after using antibiotics that end up destroying the healthy intestinal flora.
2. Probiotic Supplements
In addition to food, probiotics can also be consumed in the form of supplements in capsules, liquids, or sachets, which must be diluted in water or natural juices to be consumed.
Several types of supplements can include 1 to 10 different types of probiotics.
The most important ones are:
- Bifidobacteria animalis: Helps strengthen the immune system, as well as facilitating digestion and fighting bacteria transmitted by eating contaminated food
- Bifidobacteria bifidum: They are present in small and large intestines, aiding in the digestion of dairy products
- Brief bifidobacteria: Present in the intestine and the vaginal tract helping to fight infections by bacteria and fungi
- Bifidobacteria longum: It’s one of the most common types of probiotics in the intestine and helps by eliminating toxins from the body
- Lactobacillus acidophilus: Perhaps the most important type of probiotics, since it helps in the absorption of various nutrients, in addition to fighting infections and facilitating digestion. This probiotic is also present in the vagina, helping to fight yeast infections
- Lactobacillus reuteri: They are especially present in the mouth, stomach and small intestine, being important against H. pylori infection
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus: These are present in the intestine and help combat cases of diarrhea, especially when traveling to other countries
- Lactobacillus fermentum: Neutralizes products and toxins released during digestion, improving the environment for the growth of intestinal flora
The greater the diversity of probiotics and the number of bacteria within each tablet, the better the supplement. As it will facilitate the balance and the faster development of healthy gut flora.
Ideally, probiotics should be ingested before or after a meal to help bacteria survive gastric acid and reach the intestine, where they can multiply more easily.
It’s important to remember that in addition to consuming probiotics in the form of supplements or foods rich in these bacterias, it is also important to maintain a healthy diet rich in fiber.
Since fibers are the main food for probiotics, favoring their survival in the intestine.
Difference between prebiotics / probiotics: A quick recap
**The following it’s a summary of what you’ve learned today about whole foods probiotics and their varieties.
Note that several statements have been repeated because they are considered important in this subject.
While probiotics are healthy bacteria that inhabit the intestine, prebiotics is fibers that serve as food for probiotics and promote their survival and proliferation in the intestine.
They differ in their nature and in their way of acting:
Prebiotics are carbohydrates found as non-digestible food ingredients that ferment in the large intestine, serving as food for the beneficial bacteria (lactobacilli, bifidobacteria) have and that we need in our digestive system.
Therefore, they hinder the growth of harmful bacteria, improving the intestinal flora and, ultimately, your health.
Prebiotics are found naturally in breast milk and some fruits and vegetables: banana, garlic, leek, onion, artichoke, asparagus, tomato, chicory root, etc.
Due to its beneficial effects, inulin and oligofructose are now being added to yogurts, ice creams, dairy drinks, juices, breakfast cereals, bread, snack products, and confectionery products without negatively affecting their taste.
Yogurt and fermented milks are the most common foods where you can find probiotics.
Its beneficial effects on the body are:
- They prevent constipation and diarrhea
- Lower blood pressure and plasma cholesterol
- Support bone mineralization
- Protective properties against colorectal cancer
On the other hand, probiotics are food ingredients made up of living microorganisms (lactobacilli, bifidobacteria), the same as those found in the intestinal flora that, once ingested in sufficient amounts through the foods that contain them, produce beneficial effects on your health.
<<These actions include the effects of probiotics in improving the composition of the intestinal flora while keeping it balanced, supports lactose intolerance, reduces the activities of certain enzymes involved in the generation of mutagenic products, and some stimulation of the immune system.>>
These microorganisms are capable of resisting gastric acidity and the effect of bile salts and, therefore, capable of crossing the stomach and surviving in the intestine, where they will carry out various actions that will have a beneficial effect on intestinal health.
Its beneficial effects on the body are:
- They’re useful in the prevention and treatment of infectious diarrhea and due to the consumption of antibiotics
- Decrease lactose intolerance
- Reduce the symptoms of intestinal inflammation
- Lower cholesterol levels
- They prevent colon cancer and atopic diseases
In general, lactobacillus stimulates the immune system, improve the digestion of dairy products, reduce diarrheal processes in adults and children, decrease bacterial enzymes, form a barrier against pathogenic bacteria and improve the absorption of minerals.
<<New probiotic lactobacilli are: “L. acidophilus LA 1”, “L-delbrueckii,” “L. casei CG,” “L-Plantarum” or “L-Reuteris” and it is already possible to find them in some foods, mainly in dairy derivatives .>>
The benefits of L. casei do not stop there alone, since an important risk group such as the elderly, especially if they play sports, “finds effective help in a supplementary treatment that contains, in addition to probiotics, vitamin preparations and antioxidants. “
Lactobacillus L-Reuteri increases resistance to infectious processes, especially in the intestines, prevents diarrhea, and reduces the duration of diarrheal processes, in addition to regulating the immune system.
L-Reuteri, discovered at the beginning of the last century by Professor Reuter, has a natural origin as it is present in humans and vertebrate animals.
It is transmitted from mother to children through breastfeeding, although with the modern lifestyle, it’s been lost; hence the interest in its synthesis to incorporate it into consumer products.
Tips for consuming prebiotics and probiotics
As part of a balanced diet and accompanied by a healthy lifestyle, the consumption of probiotics and prebiotics offers the possibility of improving health and/or preventing certain diseases.
It may be especially beneficial in population groups with special nutritional needs such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
It’s a good practice to consume probiotics (yogurts, fermented milk) regularly as part of your daily diet.
As for the consumption of whole foods probiotics, it becomes necessary if, for various reasons, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, cereals, and legumes cannot be achieved.
The intake of these or other types of probiotic foods, in no case, should replace a balanced diet.
With a varied and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, dairy, and fish, you’ll be taking those same functional nutrients that are added to new foods and, ultimately, will always make the shopping basket unnecessarily expensive.
<<Some examples of natural prebiotics are oatmeal, onion, garlic, green banana, and green banana biomass.>>