What are probiotics ?

What are probiotics

You may have heard or read about them, but do you want to find out more about what they are and how do you know if probiotics are working ? Then stay tuned. In this article I’m going to introduce you to what probiotics are, how they can be useful to you and what types of probiotics there are.

The word ‘probiotics’ in Greek literally means ‘For Life’, and this is true, because they represent living microorganisms. Although Probiotics are getting more and more popular nowadays and their use is only increasing day by day, they are actually very ancient and have been known as immune system stimulating foods since long ago.

What are probiotics ?

Probiotics in essence are live microorganisms (bacteria & yeast) that can be good for your digestive system. The human body contains approximately 3.5 pounds (1.59 kg) of probiotics bacteria, both good and bad. Here we are interested in the good ones.

Probiotics should not be confused with Prebiotics, which are a kind of fibre serving as a food source for the bacteria living in your colon. That is a whole different subject.

How can they be good to you ?

Your gut is already full of bacteria, ‘’good’ and ‘bad’. Probiotics are called the good bacteria, which can promote healthy intestinal environment and help with fighting some illnesses by improving the immune system. If a person is already in a weakened state of illness, probiotics can help regain health and strength by restoring the gut lining with helpful good bacteria.

Some health issues probiotics are claimed to be helpful with:

  • High cholesterol,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Irritable bowel syndrome,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Eczema,
  • Infections,
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome,
  • Depression and mental health issues.

There are many more health problems that probiotics can help with, there are many more health benefits of probiotics.

What types of probiotics are there ?

Different types of probiotics can be classified into many categories, but the most commonly used are the following: probiotic supplements and natural probiotics. Probiotic supplements mainly come in a form of artificially produced pills, while natural probiotics are fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, sour cucumbers (pickles without vinegar), kombucha, etc. These food items come from different cultures around the world, where fermentation has been key to preservation during winter and keeping healthy throughout the entire year during centuries.

Probiotic supplements

Probiotic supplements don’t require medical prescription, because they are considered to be supplements. They are generally considered to be safe to use too. Each supplement generally contains a certain amount of bacteria per product unit (pill), which is defined by a measuring unit CFU (colony forming units). By knowing this number, one knows how many living organisms he or she is consuming with the pill.

Natural probiotics

These are the natural, living foods. Instead of taking a supplement pill, you can go ahead and eat them as food. Tasting delicious, not only will they satisfy your appetite, but they will also get some good bacteria into your body naturally.

Apart from tasting very good, they also do not have the side effects of pickles based on vinegar and added sugar. It is important to draw a clear line here. The latter are the ones which are the most widespread in grocery stores, since they are cheaper to produce and have a long shelf life. As a result of this they are also harmful to one’s health. It is well worth the effort, search and price to try and get hold of the true probiotic products, such as sauerkraut and sour cucumbers, all without vinegar and sugar. It is possible to even make them yourself.

Probiotic foods on the other hand are not addictive, it is usually very difficult to overeat on them, and even if you do so, your stomach will be full fast, because they contain high amounts of fibre and are low in calories. Thus natural probiotics are really good in controlling the appetite and maintaining regular bowel movements.

Probiotics have a delicious umami taste to them also, explaining their popularity as foods across continents and throughout centuries. They can serve as a wonderful side dish, antipasti or addition to any savoury meal of your choice, providing immense flavours.


This article shows how there are multiple types of probiotics that you can take, including supplements and natural ones. As a takeaway from this article you can understand how probiotics are useful not only as a health stimulator, but also as a food source if you take them in their natural food form. Regardless of what form you choose, they are quite safe to use and do not require any prescription. They can either be bought or if we are talking about the natural ones – even made to your taste, making them available in many forms.

Finally, probiotics can be helpful to your health in many ways and it is for you to choose how to use and consume them.