Our organism is populated by millions of microorganisms, many are found in the gastrointestinal tract and form the microbioma. These bacteria contribute to good intestinal health and an alteration in their balance can cause disorders.
Probiotics, prebiotics and lactic cultures can be useful to restore normal conditions. Professor Silvio Danese, Head of the Intestinal Chronic Inflammatory Diseases Centre in Humanitas, spoke about this in an interview with Corriere della Sera.
Probiotics are living organisms, “They are bacteria but they are also yeasts. The main source of food that contains them is yoghurt, while many supplements with probiotics are commercially available. The variety of probiotics is vast,” says Prof. Danese.
The effectiveness of probiotics is still being studied and, as the US National Institute of Health points out, there is still much to discover about probiotics. The prevention of diarrhea is one of the areas where it has proved most useful. Diarrhea can be the result of taking antibiotics, drugs that can increase the risk of liquid feces. Probiotics, in this case, can limit the risk.
The UK National Health Service also highlights the role of probiotics in reducing swelling and flatulence, which are characteristic of irritable bowel syndrome.
Prebiotics can contribute to the rebalancing of microbioma by promoting the growth of good bacteria. They are found in foods such as whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey, artichokes and chicory. Their intake therefore helps bacteria that are friends of intestinal health and reduces the risk of disorders.
The co-presence of prebiotics and probiotics in a food makes it a symbiotic product, such as fermented milk, yoghurt and kefir, a fermented milk beverage.
Lactic cultures are bacteria and yeasts of human origin with a probiotic action that benefit the intestine by helping to maintain the balance of intestinal bacterial flora. In particular, they are substances that produce lactic acid thanks to the enzymatic fermentation of some soluble sugars. Thanks to milk enzymes in yoghurt and fermented milk, many people who are intolerant to lactose can also consume milk products. The bacteria in these foods are able to metabolize lactose,” explains Professor Danese.