Health Articles

Good Source of PROBIOTICS?

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Probiotics, known as “good bacteria”, help to maintain natural balance of micro-flora in intestine. Probiotics helps with gastrointestinal problems like constipation, diarrhea and bloating, preventing inflammation, and boosting immunity. 

A healthy gut has balance micro-flora but for many of us with years of bad diet, unhealthy lifestyle and the over-use of antibiotics have led to “bad bacteria” taking hold of our gut. Probiotics are now available in foods, beverages and dietary supplement. Cultured drinks like Yakult or Vitagen are popular among Malaysian. Several studies suggested that cultured drinks indicate a beneficial effect on gastrointestinal symptoms. However, sugar is added after fermentation for taste; the lactic acid produced would otherwise make it taste sour. Consider the amount of sugar in products if you’re trying to manage your blood sugar.

Probiotics should be alive to an adequate amount in order to give a positive effect on health. Numerous studies have demonstrated that probiotic strains grow poorly in milk, resulting in low final count and loss of the viability during prolonged or inappropriate storage. Temperature plays a role in the stability of probiotics. This lead to the question whether the number of probiotics decline to such an extent that the bacteria counts remaining are not enough for the products to be beneficial.    
Most of the commercial probiotic are composed of single strain (Yakult – lactobacillus shirota). However, studies indicate that multi-strain probiotics appear to show greater efficacy than single strains, including strains that are component of the mixtures themselves. This is because each probiotic strain possesses different health benefits and they show symbiotic, additive relationships toward each other which enhance growth and metabolic activity.

Another aspect to consider is that when dairy products are pasteurized to reduce the number of bacteria and to increase the shelf life. Most of the good bacteria are killed in the process and therefore, no probiotic effect will be obtained. Consumers should be sure to purchase products where the probiotic are added after pasteurization. Using products that clearly state “contains living/ active cultures” is the best.   


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