- Your Body: Getting to know your lady parts 05/30/2017
Do you find yourself bloated, gassy or constipated every so often? It can be bothersome if you cannot move your bowel as regularly as you need to. This can result in bloating and not only does it look unflattering, it feels uncomfortable as well. And, then there’s gas. Passing gas can be embarrassing especially when caught. If these issues are part of your day-to-day life, it’s time to look into probiotics.
Probiotics are especially good for the digestive system. These helpful bacteria help keep the gut healthy. Hundreds of trillions of bacteria live in the intestines. These are “good” and “bad” bacteria and both help in the digestion and processing of food. A healthy intestinal system that functions properly has the right amount of “good” bacteria. On the other hand, having too much “bad” bacteria may contribute to conditions like colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, obesity, diabetes and Crohn’s disease. Gut flora refers to the complex mix of “good” and “bad” bacteria and microorganisms. A well-balanced gut flora results in a healthy stomach and intestinal tract – no bloating, constipation and excessive gas. Probiotics help in the balance and regulation of the normal gut flora.
Probiotics and Vaginal Health
Like the intestinal tract, the vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem. Probiotics may help in maintaining urogenital health. Lactobacilli strains normally make it too acidic for harmful microorganisms to thrive but the healthy balance can be disrupted by many factors such as birth control pills, antibiotics, and spermicides. Probiotic treatment that restores the balance of microflora may help in the common female urogenital problems like bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infection and yeast infection.
When we hear of bacteria and microorganisms, we automatically relate them to harmful germs. The fact is there are many bacteria and microorganisms in our body that complete an important process. They outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. In our intestines, there are bacteria that aid in digestion, produce vitamins, and fight disease-causing microorganisms.
Probiotics are sold as food (such as yogurt and milk), dietary supplements, and skin creams. According to 2012 report, about 4 million US adults or 1.6 percent of the population use probiotics. It is the third most commonly used dietary supplement next to vitamins and minerals.
Types of Probiotics
There are over 500 different probiotic strains in the human body, the most common of which belongs to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Each of these groups includes many types of bacteria.
Lactobacillus – There are many types of bacteria used in probiotics and Lactobaccilusis the most important group. It can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut. There are different species and strains of Lactobacillus and they each have different properties and may be useful for specific health problems. Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most extensively researched form of lactobacillus and is the most common when shopping for probiotics. Like all probiotics, L. acidophilus helps regulate digestion. Unlike other species, however, it has shown clinical effectiveness in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome. L. acidophilus is also beneficial for vaginal health. It produces natural acids that keep the reproductive system healthy.
Bifidobacteria are considered “shy” probiotics because they cannot be found in food and drink products that are exposed to air as they cannot live in an oxygen-rich environment. These good bacteria are among the first microbes that appear in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of newborns and are dominant in the intestines of breastfed babies. Along with Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium is important in digestive health.
Although further research is needed, there is evidence that probiotics help in the following:
- Strengthen the digestive tract’s protection against harmful microorganisms and produce substances that stop their growth
- Help digest food
- Assist the microorganisms in the digestive tract recover after a disease
- Aids in absorbing essential nutrients
- Fight undesirable microorganisms
- Strengthen immunity
- Help in weight loss.
Research shows that probiotics are also helpful when it comes to the following:
- Skin diseases like eczema
- Urinary and vaginal health, particularly prevention and treatment of vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Oral health
- Prevention of allergies and cold
Sources of Probiotics
The following foods are natural sources of probiotics:
Yogurt – This is one of the best sources of probiotics but be sure to check the label first to see if it has “live and active cultures.”
Kefir – This is a fermented milk drink that has a tangier taste compared to yogurt.
Sourdough bread – This bread is made with a starter that has the Lactobacillus bacteria which also gives the bread its unique taste.
Miso – Miso is a probiotic which the Japanese use in their famous Miso soup. It can also be added to salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.
Probiotics are not just naturally found in foods. They can also be taken in as supplements which can be in liquid, tablet or powder form. These supplements are generally sold as over-the-counter dietary supplements and are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Intimate Rose’s Flora Bloom is a health supplement that’s beneficial when it comes to vaginal, urinary and digestive health.