Health-Have We Got It Wrong?
A new-born child is the epitome of health. At the early stage of life, we have the most balanced body. In fact the first six months of our lives, we relied on our mother’s milk, which is considered as a complete and balanced diet. So what really changes as we grow? Is it the stress or the hectic life-style that causes the many diseases? It appears that the depreciation of health is associated with the exposure to the external environment; be it the junk food for the belly or the polluted air for the respiratory system. Finding the balance seems to be the solution for this problem.
Bring the Balance:
One simple but excellent explanation of disease is the concept of “balance”. The altered balance of the body and environment surrounding it can cause disease. For example: When we grow we eat the food which suits our tongue and not the body; we forget to exercise accumulating excessive fats, challenging the body. Infection itself is the alteration of blood profile, which is then inhabited by germs. The question now arises:”How can we bring balance?” One such method is by incorporation of probiotics in our diet. Probiotics balances the bad bacteria, thereby keeping our body healthy.
Probiotics- It All Began With Kefir:
Micro-organisms are everywhere. They are in the air, water and on land. Ironical it may seem, they are also in our gut, though these good bacteria help in digestion of food. There are also many harmful germs that cause infections. Nature is the provider of both of these. Combating the germs with the natural methods through good bacteria is an answer that our ancestors already knew. Probiotic is a cocktail of these good micro-organisms.
According to an article published in J. Appl Microbiol,the authors enlisted that the use of natural sources of probiotics can have beneficial effects owing to the following reasons:
- production of anti-microbial compounds that can combat the pathogens
- modifying the pH of the gut
- competing with the pathogens for receptor and binding sites
- producing lactase
- competing with the pathogens for the nutrients
The concept of probiotics must have take shape through trial- and –error method. In early 1900’s due to the breakthrough work of a Russian scientist, Elie Metchnikoff, probiotics found its presence in the modern lexicon. He found that the people of the Caspian Mountains lived longer and healthier lives, which he attributed to natural fermented goat-milk preparation called kefir, therefore concluding that by ingesting ample supply of good bacteria, the effects of the harmful micro-organisms can be negated. Kefir, as we now know contains many strains of probiotics. Variation in the batch-to-batch consistency of kefir restricted its use these days. If you want to know about Kefir, please go to the Exploring Kefir article.
Replacing Kefir With Yogurt:
Yogurt is also an excellent natural source of probiotic and is prepared in similar lines as kefir. Yogurt can be home-made or store-bought. In the home-made yogurt, the two important bacteria are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophillus. These two are present in the starter that is used to prepare yogurt. Both these bacteria are excellent source of probiotics, having known efficacy. The two other sources of probiotic are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. It is therefore recommended to have yogurt regularly to have a constant supply of these useful probiotics. However, several harmful bacteria may find passage into the milk to be fermented, which can come as the limitation of home-made yogurt. Store-bought yogurt is essentially processed in the similar manner with essentially the same bacteria; however it is large-scale production for commercial use. Due to research in the field of nutrition, new types of yogurts, such as one enhancing the immune system is now visible in the store. Interestingly, in such yogurt, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus is added.
We mentioned yogurt as an excellent source of probiotic, but we must broaden our scope of choice. For example, people with lactose-intolerance depend on non-dairy products to get their nutrients. What is the option for them? Interestingly, some research in this field is in progress. According to an article published in J. Appl Microbiol,the authors enlisted that the use of natural sources of probiotics can have beneficial effects owing to the following reasons: However, from this study it was ascertained that poi cannot replace yogurt as a source of probiotic. Yogurt is a safe and effective weapon to counter the germs, and is also healthy for your pocket.
Natural sources of probiotics are not the only sources. They make supplements for times when you just cannot get enough natural probiotics. Please see this article written by us to learn how to choose a probiotic. Summing up, probiotics are healthy natural method to fight pathogens and with research in the field they are evolving each day. So, “Bring probiotics in your platter and be healthy”.