Whenever we hear “BACTERIA”, what comes to our minds are diseases, infections, etc. As a result of this erroneous belief, the idea of consuming foods that contain certain live bacteria is hard to accept. But the irony of the whole thing is that, unknowingly to us, we consume these foods that have been acted upon by bacteria (the good ones, however). It is true that bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, but a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that we can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. In fact, some specialists recommend probiotic supplements for digestive tract diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
PROBIOTICS are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements, that provide a range of health benefits when consumed. They are often called “the good/friendly bacteria”, mainly because they help to keep the digestive tract healthy. As a result of increasing awareness of the public concerning the role of food on health, the demand for probiotic functional foods is rapidly and progressively on the rise. In fact, probiotics are now emerging as a promising key aspect of food supplement in the world today.
BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
- They help to keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check.
- They contribute to immune function.
- They aid digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Probiotics may be of use in maintaining urogenital.
- They also minimize the risk of allergies in children.
- Studies suggest that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal problems.
- Probiotics may also protect against inflammatory bowel diseases.
These are foods that contain live bacteria (and sometimes, yeasts) which are beneficial to human health. Fermented foods are the most common sources of these beneficial microorganisms. This is because the naturally occurring sugar or fibre in the food are being broken down by the bacteria, thereby enabling them to thrive and multiply.
Examples of probiotic foods include:
- Non-pasteurized pickled vegetables.
- Unpasteurized cheese.
Indegenous fermented foods that are also sources of probiotics include:
- Nunu (fermented milk).