Frequently Asked Questions Q1. What is meant by Probiotic?
Answer:The word "probiotic" is a compound of two Greek words: "pro," to signify promotion of and "biotic," which means life. The World Health Organization defines a probiotic as any living microorganism that has a health benefit when ingested.
Probiotics are often present in fermented products such as dairy products (e.g. yogurt, yogurt drinks, buttermilk), some juices and soy beverages, plants (sauerkraut and miso), as well as in dietary supplements, which are available in various dosage forms, such as capsules, tablets, and powders.
Probiotic supplements may contain one or more species of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium or Saccharomyces. Within the Lactobacillus genus, Lactobacillus reuteri is the most prevalent in the human body; however, supplements on the market may contain the following Lactobacillus species: rhamnosus GG, reuteri, acidophilus, bulgaricus, or fermentum. Species of Bifidobacterium found in supplements include longum, bifidum, breve, infanti, or lactis. Saccharomyces boulardii, which is yeast, is the only Saccharomyces species used in dietary supplements. In probiotic foods and dietary supplements, the microbial count is determined by CFU number.
CFUs or colony-forming units is a microbiological term that describes the density of viable bacteria in a product. In other words, the CFU tells you how rich in probiotics a food actually is and how much will be available to your body.
Q2. What are the health benefits of Probiotics?
Answer: While probiotics are often used to promote digestive health, various studies have postulated that the use of probiotics may have several protective health effects. Examples of potential proprotective effects associated with probiotics include improvement of gastrointestinal barrier function, treating diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, yeast infection, rheumatoid arthritis, bladder cancer, alteration of epithelial cell cytokine production, enhancement of antiviral activity and regulation of T cell induction.
But, there is also another side of Probiotics. While probiotic supplements are typically well tolerated, adverse effects are possible, including mild bloating and flatulence and diarrhea has been reported within the pediatric population. Moreover, concurrent administration of a probiotic supplement and an antibiotic or antifungal agent is typically not recommended and dosing intervals of these agents should be spaced at least 2 hours apart. Therefore, a generous advice from PSM Desk to all patients that it is best to use probiotic products of reputable companies and to adhere to the manufacturer’s dosage guidelines and directions for use. Much caution should be observed while giving such products to children who are susceptible to complications. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should always consult their primary health care provider before using any supplement to minimize any kind of adverse after effect.