The facts surrounding the use of antibiotics are very puzzling. Approximately 26904 million antibiotic treatments are administered each year in clinics. In the United States, about 35 percent of adults have gastrointestinal complications and about 25 percent of women develop vaginal complications after taking antibiotics. The human intestine contains many types of bacteria (useful, harmful or neutral) and the urinary and vaginal tracts also contain specific strains of beneficial bacteria. In order to prevent disease, it is important to balance the bacteria, especially in the digestive tract. According to research by accredited medical and scientific associations including the Cleveland Clinic of America, the use of probiotics is the most reliable method of preventing gastrointestinal complications following antibiotic use.
Definition of probiotic: Probiotics are useful living bacteria and single-celled fungi that naturally live in the digestive system, especially the small intestine. We usually look at bacteria as pathogens, but the human body is also full of beneficial bacteria, and probiotics are the “good or useful” bacteria that help the digestive system. Natural sources of probiotics are generally dairy and fruits, but are nowadays found in supplement powder, supplement capsules, or in some processed foods such as yogurt.
Types of probiotics: Generally, two species of bacteria and one single-celled fungus form the major source of probiotics:
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus: Lactobacillus are the most famous species of probiotic bacteria and are commonly found in yogurt and fermented foods. Lactobacillus can be useful in cases of diarrhea or indigestion caused by lactose intolerance.
- Bifido Bacterium: These bacteria are found in dairy and fermented foods such as yogurt and kimchi. These probiotics are particularly effective in relieving symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
- Saccharomyces Boulardii: This is a single-celled fungus (Yeast) that can be very effective in maintaining the bacterial balance (Flora) of the human mucosa, including the digestive and vaginal mucosa.
The role of probiotics in preventing and ameliorating symptoms
Probiotics help regenerate and grow beneficial mucosal bacteria, especially in the intestines. If the bacteria in the gut are compromised, bowel dysfunction can occur which can lead to acne, food allergies, excessive fatigue, depression, headaches and most commonly chronic diarrhea. In healthy people, the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut is predominant. These bacteria also play an important role in the production of certain vitamins (such as vitamin K) and organic acids.
On the other hand, harmful bacteria can produce toxic and carcinogenic compounds. Therefore, if harmful bacteria predominate in the gut, not only are the essential compounds not produced, but the amount of harmful compounds also increases.
The natural gut flora contains micro-organisms that live naturally in the digestive tract and contribute to the health of the host. These microorganisms are very sensitive to antibiotics and are rapidly eliminated. This is especially important in the case of strong antibiotics or their long-term use, especially for those at risk, including children, the elderly or those with underlying diseases. By disrupting the natural intestinal flora, opportunistic bacteria multiply rapidly and can cause diseases such as chronic diarrhea after taking antibiotics. The same is true for the balance of bacteria in the vaginal flora. The elimination of beneficial bacteria in the vagina causes the growth and proliferation of opportunistic bacteria, infections and fungal diseases after taking antibiotics.
An easy way to prevent infection by taking antibiotics, is taking probiotics in combination with antibiotics to maintain normal intestinal flora, vagina, and other internal mucus.
Some of the diseases that probiotics affect are: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Intestinal Mucosal Inflammation, Types of Acute Infectious Diarrhea caused by Viruses, Bacteria or Parasites and chronic diarrhea caused by the use of antibiotics that have a broad spectrum of therapy.
Taking probiotics may also help improve skin disorders such as eczema, food allergy prevention, urinary and vaginal health, oral health, and increased absorption of minerals and vitamins. Researchers are investigating probiotics that specifically help control, prevent and improve certain diseases.
Side Effects of Probiotics:
In general, consumption of probiotic-containing foods is safe for most people in the community, but people with immune problems or acute or specific illnesses need to be consulted more closely. Common side effects of probiotics include stomach upset, diarrhea, and flatulence in the early days of consumption. People taking blood thinning medicines such as Warfarin should consult their physician about probiotic use. Different types of probiotics can be purchased from most pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.