What are probiotics?
Are you confused by the many kinds of probiotics in the market?
First, you must know that there are more than 1000 strains of probiotics, with the two most common probiotics being lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
Probiotics is also known as the good bacteria. They co-exist with bad bacteria in our bodies. The right balance of good and bad bacteria keeps us healthy.
When we fall sick, it tips the balance and taking more good bacteria helps to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance. This can be done through the consumption of probiotic supplements.
Probiotics come in many forms. Food such as yogurt, cottage cheese, miso soup etc are great sources of probiotics. These foods can be introduced into your diet at any point, without any major side effects.
Probiotics have proven to be useful in treating conditions such as upper respiratory tract infection, irritable bowel syndrome, atopic eczema etc. A regular consumption of probiotics also promotes optimal gastrointestinal tract function, leading to stronger immunity against illnesses.
Hence, other than treating diseases, probiotics is also taken as preventive medicine.
Probiotics and weight loss
An imbalance in gut bacteria, known as dysbiosis, has been linked to obesity and metabolic disorders. Some studies have suggested that restoring a healthy balance of gut bacteria using suitable probiotics could potentially aid in weight loss.
However, there are some strains of probiotics that do the exact opposite and encourage weight gain. One such strain is the Lactobacillus Acidophilus which may alter the bacteria in the gut to promote cellular growth.
When probiotics is consumed in the form of flavoured drinks, the high sugar content will also contribute to weight gain.
Probiotics and blood pressure
The use of probiotics to improve blood pressure falls under the non-pharmacological approach to blood pressure management. Probiotics, due to their multiple health benefits, can complement hypertension drugs in bringing down blood pressure.
A study done in 2014 on the effect of probiotics on blood pressure shows a mean decrease in systolic BP of 3.8 mmHg with a standard deviation of 5.0 mmHg in patients with grade 1 hypertension after taking probiotics for eight weeks.
Probiotics and Female Health
Several factors such as aging, hormonal changes and sexual activity will affect the level of the lactobacilli in the female reproductive system. When the level of
lactobacilli drops, the vaginal environment becomes less acidic, thus making it more susceptible to various urogenital infections.
Probiotic supplements have shown to be effective in increasing the level of lactobacilli in the vagina, thus preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria and other harmful microorganisms
How to take probiotics?
Probiotics are generally considered safe for most healthy people. Still, certain strains of probiotics might not be suitable for individuals with existing health conditions and may cause some side effects such as allergic reaction, stomach upset etc.
If you are unsure about what types of probiotics are suitable for you, it may be a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific health goals and needs.
About Dr Adrian Mondry
Dr Adrian Mondry is a Hypertension Specialist accredited by the German Hypertension League in Singapore. He was previously a senior consultant in the department of medicine at the National University Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), Dr Mondry has more than 30 years of experience in the field of internal medicine.
Dr Adrian Mondry is recognised for his leadership and contributions in establishing the dedicated hypertension clinic within the National University Health System and fast-track deep vein thrombosis service at NTFGH.
Dr Adrian Mondry is fluent in English, German and French.
About Kaizen Medical
Kaizen Medical is located at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Suite 11-57.
At Kaizen, we provide in depth health care to patients with multi-organs diseases; tackling undifferentiated presentations that cannot be easily assigned to a single organ.