Foods with probiotics are increasingly in vogue, but what are they? Today we discovered it as we did a few days ago with cabbage Kale.
- What are probiotics?
- History of probiotics
- How do probiotics work?
- Applications and benefits of probiotics
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit. For a microorganism to be qualified as a probiotic, it is essential to demonstrate scientifically that it produces a positive effect on the organism. In addition, they must be microorganisms that do not cause diseases by themselves or toxins that may impair the functioning of our body. This means that the scientific community agrees that it is safe, unlike raw water , a subject in which there is much controversy.
The beneficial effects, therefore, must be demonstrated by studies carried out on human beings and with the appropriate scientific methodology. The rules are so strict that, even though a strain has shown efficacy, the result can not be extrapolated to the strains of the same family. Each study must focus and demonstrate effectiveness in different areas of human health. For example, a probiotic may have shown benefit in the prevention of diarrhea but its indication will not be valid for the prevention of allergies.
These microorganisms are not the solution to all our health problems, even though, for many years, they have been sold to us as almost a miracle. On the other hand, it is also true that it seems that there are medical conditions that benefit from their consumption.
History of probiotics
Humans have been consuming probiotics for thousands of years through breastfeeding (hence many of its benefits and its great impact on the health of the infant) and yogurt.
The probiotics began to be in vogue in 1965 after an article published in the journal Science by Daniel M. Lilly and Rosalie H. Stilwell. They were the ones who baptized this type of bacteria with the term pro (in favor of) and bios (life). Therefore, probiotic means “in favor of life”. They chose this name to be substantively different from antibiotic, since they thought they were substances secreted by a microorganism that stimulated the growth of others.
In 2014, Colin Hill of the Biosciences Institute of the University of Cork (Ireland) defined probiotics as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a benefit to the health of the host.” Many studies have been conducted. on the subject, especially with some types of bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and streptococci. Among them, the most studied is yogurt. The yogurt is only one type of fresh milk and retains occurs upon contact of the milk with a bacteria ( Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii bulgaricus ) living in the sacks goatskin, where formerly it was transported.
How do probiotics work?
To explain the possible therapeutic effects of probiotics on human health we can say that they can act at different levels:
- Direct metabolic effect when interacting with the intestinal flora (microbiota).
- Action in the intestinal mucosa improving the barrier function and the immune system associated with said mucosa.
- The intestinal barrier is very important to avoid disorders such as intestinal inflammatory diseases or digestive infections.
- Action in the immune system in general and in the central nervous system.
- It is said that they modulate the immune response and can act on innate and acquired immunity, being able to protect against inflammatory diseases and infections.
Applications and benefits of probiotics
In these medical conditions, probiotics have shown efficacy after conducting studies with scientific methodology in humans:
- Reduction of the incidence of rotavirus diarrhea in children.
- Reduction of the incidence of diarrhea associated with antibiotics in adults.
- Symptomatic improvement in irritable bowel syndrome.
- Reduction of the frequency and severity of necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants.
There is not yet enough scientific evidence on the benefits of probiotics in some fields. Although promising results are predicted, more scientific studies are needed to prove its effectiveness:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Atopic dermatitis.
- Respiratory infections.
- Genitourinary infections.
- Complementary treatment against Helicobacter pylori .
The beneficial effect of probiotics in some infectious processes is based on the role of these microorganisms as possible modulators of the intestinal microbiota and the immune system.
Some strains of Saccharomyces boulardii , Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus have been shown to be effective in the treatment of acute childhood infectious diarrhea (especially in that caused by rotavirus).
The combination of strains of Bifidobacterium infantis , bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus has the potential to reduce the risk of incidence of necrotising enterocolitis in preterm infants.
In ulcerative colitis, strains of Escherichia coli appear to be effective in maintaining periods of remission of symptoms. Other strains that collaborate in improving this function are: Streptococcus thermophilus , Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Therefore, according to the latest scientific publications, the impact of probiotics on the human microbiota and their ability to modulate the immune system give probiotics the ability to treat some medical conditions. More research is needed to discover new lines of treatment in human health.