Common Digestive Issues And How Probiotics Can Help
- 4 Mins Read
- Health Conditions
- Written by: Dr. Pramod Mane
- Eating increased proportions of salty, sugary, spicy, and fattening foods leads to digestive problems.
- The primary reason for gut ailments is an unhealthy gut microflora.
- Probiotics are good bacteria that on ingesting, can nurture the gut microbiota.
- There is high-quality evidence that probiotics are effective against gut diseases.
- Probiotic foods and supplements can boost your GI health and help in the management of gut ailments.
We all love a bite of that pizza, some fries on the side, a tasty dip to go with it, and of course some sweet for dessert! Our eating habits have vastly changed over the years and it’s not the best news for our gut health.
Eating increased proportions of salty, sugary, spicy, and fattening foods has led to the development of different digestive orders you should be aware of in every household.
So, is there a solution to this?
Let’s take a close look at these problems and see the link between probiotics and digestive health.
Common digestive ailments
Constipation can be defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. However, this differs from person to person. The defining features of being constipated are stools that are dry and hard, painful bowel movements and stools that are difficult to pass, and a feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels.
When your stools are loose or watery, it’s called diarrhea. This is a very common condition and usually resolves without any medication. However, it can cause discomfort due to the urgency and frequency of bowel movements. Diarrhea can cause abdominal pain, cramping, and even nausea.
3. Gut dysbiosis
The microbiota consists of harmless bacteria most of which affect our health positively. However, when some of these bacterial colonies get out of balance, it can lead to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis typically occurs when the bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract lose their balance and turn harmful to our body. Harmful gut bacteria from the teeth, mouth, food or other sources can cause gut dysbiosis.
4. Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)
Regular occurrence of heartburn can be a sign of GERD. This condition, if not controlled can erode the lining of the esophagus and lead to bleeding. It also causes pain in the chest so extreme that it is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack. Eating at odd hours, and eating large portions of oily and spicy foods are common triggers of GERD.
Gastroenteritis is a bacterial or viral infection of the gut. Symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches are the reason it’s called the stomach flu. Infections can be caused by entities like E. coli, salmonella, rotavirus, norovirus, or other parasites.
Now that we are all caught up on common digestive problems, we have found that a primary reason for gut ailments is unhealthy gut microflora.
The imbalance may be a result of intruding microbes or damage to existing ones. Medications help with getting the bad microbes out of your system but how do we restore our microflora and bring balance to our gut? This is when the probiotics come in.
The probiotic effect
Probiotics are good bacteria that on ingesting, can nurture the gut microbiota. The human gut is a huge complex ecosystem. The various good bacterial communities in the gut perform important digestive functions that ensure the balanced functioning of the GI tract.
These close relationships between gut microbiota, health, and disease, encourage the use of probiotics to flourish the gut microbiota to prevent or treat some diseases. The use of probiotics in the treatment of these conditions has become a common practice due to their positive results and improvement in patient profiles.
What does science say?
There is high-quality evidence that:
- probiotics are effective for acute infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Clostridium difficile– associated diarrhea, hepatic encephalopathy, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, functional gastrointestinal disorders, and necrotizing enterocolitis.
- Probiotics have been widely studied in a variety of gastrointestinal diseases. The most-studied species of good bacteria include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces.
- Probiotics play an important role in the maintenance of immunity in the gastrointestinal tract through direct interaction with immune cells. The effectiveness of probiotics can be species, dose, and disease-specific.
With that being said, it can be concluded that probiotics can help with day-to-day digestive ailments in patients of all ages.
With our changing lifestyles, it is essential to be more vigilant of the effects it has on our guts.
- Including high-fiber foods, drinking plenty of water, and eating a balanced diet are essential steps in maintaining gut health. Including foods naturally high in probiotics in your diet like curd, yogurt, kefir, tempeh, kimchi, pickles, buttermilk, kombucha, etc. are great ways to flourish your gut microflora and keep GI diseases at bay.
- Your doctor might even advise you to include probiotic supplements in the form of drinks, fortified foods, liquids, capsules, powders, etc. These probiotic supplements can give your GI health the boost that it needs and help in the management of gut ailments.
Changing lifestyles have taken a toll on our health with frequently arising gut problems like constipation, diarrhea, gut dysbiosis, gastroenteritis, and GERD. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and including fruits and vegetables rich in probiotics in your diet can help you lead a healthier life.
Eating foods with probiotic properties or asking your doctor about which probiotic supplements are best for you can turn your gut health around. Backed by research and studies, the use of probiotics for stomach issues is recommended by doctors and can make a difference in your health with regular use. Start today and see the difference yourself.
1. Butel MJ, et al Med Mal Infect. 2014 Jan;44(1):1-8.
2. Elizabeth C, et al. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology vol. 3,5 (2010): 307-19.