Misbalances in the gut microbiota can lead to diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel, and other gut ailments. Even diabetes and allergies have been connected to the state of the gut microbiome, according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP). These misbalances could be an outcome of antibiotic treatment. Probiotics can reverse misbalances in the gut.

According to Robert Hutkins, professor of food science, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, our gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms from more than 1,000 different species having a cumulative genetic base of more than 3 million genes. He also stated the gut microbiota could weigh up to 2 kg (4.4 pounds). The microorganisms are found in the stomach and small and large intestines.

Probiotics are a group of beneficial microorganisms found in the gut. The World Health Organization (WHO) said probiotics confer a health benefit to the host when taken in adequate quantities. The most common probiotic bacteria belong to two genera—Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other genera included in this group are Enterococcus and Streptococcus, to name a few.

The protective role of probiotics in digestion is now well established. A 2012 meta-analysis of 74 studies, 84 trials, and 10,351 patients showed that probiotics are beneficial adjuncts in treating and preventing gastrointestinal (GI) diseases.(PLOS ONE 2012; 7(11):E48221)

Dietary supplements, pharmaceutical products, medical foods, infant formula, fermented foods such as fresh yogurt, fermented milk, aged cheese, kimchi, craft beer, miso, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or pickles, sourdough bread, etc., contain probiotic bacteria.

Probably there is hope and not despair.

Additional reading:

Nutrition Facts – a guide to good health

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