The scientists have given a name to it in order to indicate its importance and complexity, they call it microbiota. Microbiota is constituted by the tens of thousands of billions of bacteria that live in our gut and that are able to influence our health condition. Scientific researchers have indeed observed that the microbiota isn’t just responsible for the digestion but also that it plays a role in supporting the immune system. The gut bacteria indeed teach to the defense cells how to recognize the pathogens. Moreover, the gut bacteria synthetize vitamins that the body alone would not be able to produce, such as vitamin K and B9, also called folic acid, they improve the metabolism of blood sugars and cholesterol, are hypotensive and determine the health of the intestinal mucosa by counteracting local inflammations. A microbiota in a bad health condition may cause, among other problems, the irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, obesity, depression and also some types of cancer (Sorrentino, Fat inside, 2016). The point is that the microbiota is formed by several bacteria strains, some of which may take over the others on the basis of the diet and the lifestyle. So, it may happen that as a consequence of stressful periods, an unbalanced diet and rich in refined foods or drugs such as antibiotic, the good and beneficial bacteria with an anti inflammatory action are replaced by others, less beneficial and pro inflammatory.
The importance of probiotics
There are particular supplements, called probiotics, word that comes from the Greek and means for life, that, if taken orally, may help maintain or restore the good health of the microbiota because they bring good and physiologic bacteria, namely the bacteria that already live in our gut but that need some support to restore the balance. The probiotics are prepared from three strains of bacteria, Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli, Eubacteria. But how to take these probiotics?
Is yogurt a probiotic?
You often hear about yogurt and its beneficial effects on the gut since it brings live cultures. However, this is not completely true, indeed there is yogurt and yogurt. All the yogurts are produced from live cultures such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, with the aim to ferment the milk and transform the lactose in lactic acid. However, these bacteria, as soon as they reach the stomach, are assaulted by gastric juices and die without any real beneficial action on our microbiota (Ciorba, Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, Sep 2012). For this reason, these bacteria cannot be considered probiotics. This is the case of traditional yogurts that on the label report just Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. On the contrary, there are yogurts with the addition of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, plantarum, rhamnosus and casei and some Bifidobacteria, such as animalis, breve, bifidum, longum and lactis, the only bacteria able to overcome the stomach barrier and reach the gut where they will rebalance the bacterial flora by bringing a beneficial action on the microbiota. In this way there are a lot of improvements, for example, the healing processes of wounds are speeded up, there is a tissue renewal, dermatitis is counteracted and the immune and cardiovascular systems are supported with a control of the cholesterol and blood sugar levels (Shi et al, Trop Life Sci Res, Aug 2016). However, be careful, because even the yogurts that on the label report the addition of probiotics may not contain a sufficient amount of live bacteria to bring a real benefit. In order to have a beneficial action indeed, about a billion bacteria should enter the body. In a just produced yogurt there are, usually, about 2 billion. The problem is that the bacteria, after the production of the yogurt, start to die and, for this reason, when the expiry date is reached, there are just a few probiotics! For this reason, it is better to eat yogurt far away from the expiry date, or, even better, produced at home! However, in this last case, the advice is to use as a starter a yogurt added with probiotics and far away from the expiry date or live cultures with the addition of probiotics that we have seen in the previous paragraph. The procedure is very simple, in the jar pour a little less than a liter of milk and 4 tablespoons of yogurt or the live cultures. Put the jar in the yogurt maker and let it work for a whole night, usually for 7-8 hours. Remove then the jar and here for you the home made probiotic-rich yogurt is ready! Let it cool down and then keep in the fridge.