It’s become a fad to chug a bottle of bacteria in the form of probiotics. But, you should know everything there is to know about them, says Pearl Mathias
Although probiotic drinks won’t work digestive miracles within minutes like many advertisements suggest, they’re still all the rage right now. If you’re looking for a quick detox after an indulgent night, these drinks won’t help ease bowel movements the way that a laxative would. These dairy-based beverages or drinkable yoghurts contain a mixture of probiotic strains and are now available in a variety of flavours. Consuming them may cause mild gastrointestinal effects such as the production of gas, but there’s no ignoring the fact that they can help with a host of health benefits as well.
Before you reach for a bottle of a probiotic drink, it’s important to know a little about them. Luke Coutinho, integrative and lifestyle medicine, holistic nutrition, exercise physiologist and co-founder of Pure Nutrition, tells us that probiotics are nothing but the good bacteria present in our gut that keep us healthy. Probiotic drinks are not miraculous potions that will help you detoxify your body and increase your immunity as soon as they are consumed. Fermented food items such as curd, yoghurt, sauerkraut and pickles also contain probiotics.
Now that there are a variety of probiotic drinks available, it’s easy to get our fill. The common strains used in probiotic drinks are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Luke says, “If you want to drink your probiotics, make sure you read the label properly. It should mention the strains of bacteria that you’re actually consuming. Also, make sure your probiotic drink doesn’t have added sugar.”
Probiotic drinks are in such demand at the moment, and they definitely have a host of benefits. Dr. Purwa Duggal, head of nutrition therapy at Fortis Hospital Mulund, and Luke list some of them out for us. These probiotic drinks:
Improve gut microflora
Improve digestion and absorption of food
Prevent gastrointestinal diseases such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and help you recover from them
Can help with diarrhoea
Can fight bad bacteria and prevent food-borne diseases
Strengthen the immune system
Help prevent urinary tract infections
Help combat food-borne illness
Help to fight flu and cold
Help lower cholesterol and reduce weight
Before adding probiotic drinks to your diet, it’s best to consult your doctor. Dr. Purwa tells us that excessive intake may result in digestive distress, which may result in gas, bloating and nausea. If you blindly consume probiotics without any moderation, it may do more harm than good to your health. Luke tells us that probiotics boost immunity, but if you overuse them, they can over stimulate your immune system and cause problems with your metabolism. “If you’re on any medication, too much of probiotics may also interfere with their action. In rare cases, it may also cause an allergic reaction,” he adds. So, although they’re thought of as safe, it’s important to consume them in moderation, no matter how healthy and beneficial the bottle claims to be.
ONE SIP AT A TIME
If you’re looking to get on the probiotic bandwagon, here are a few drinks that you can begin with
Made from skimmed milk powder, sugar, glucose and beneficial bacteria (the Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota), Yakult is a delicious, citrusy flavoured drink.
Dairy-free, soy-free and vegan, this refreshing juicy drink is perfect for those suffering from an upset stomach due to food. It’s available in a variety of flavours.
Available in delicious flavours such as vanilla, strawberry, blueberry and peach, DanActive from Dannon helps to strengthen your body’s defences, boosting your immunity.
CocoBiotic by Body Ecology is a gluten-free drink prepared from tender coconuts. It helps improve digestion, lowers sugar cravings and boosts energy.