~Gut Health Unleashed: Probiotic Power~

In recent years, advertisements for probiotics have become ubiquitous in Taiwan, emphasizing their effectiveness in improving gut ecology and treating allergies, making them a popular health supplement.

# What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics, originating from the Greek words meaning "for life," were first proposed by Lilly and Stillwell in 1965. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) define probiotics as active microorganisms beneficial to the host's health when present in sufficient quantities. These microorganisms, commonly found in the human intestinal tract, form part of the normal flora, resist pathogenic bacteria, and help maintain a balanced gut.

# Types of Probiotics

Not all strains of probiotics are effective. Ideal probiotics should originate from humans, be non-pathogenic, amenable to artificial cultivation, resistant to gastric acid and bile, capable of long-term survival in the intestines, and possess mechanisms to counteract pathogenic bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria are commonly tested in human trials and are essential in the fermentation process of yogurt.

# Absorption of Probiotics in the Human Body

Probiotics face challenges surviving in the acidic stomach environment, making bedtime an opportune moment for supplementation. Diversifying intake with different strains, consuming with vegetables, supplementing at the right time, and avoiding certain medications simultaneously are effective strategies for optimal probiotic intake.

# Who Should Consider Probiotic Supplementation?

Probiotics are suitable for almost everyone, particularly individuals aged 30 and above, seniors, those with a sedentary lifestyle, high stress levels, inadequate sleep, irregular diets, aversion to vegetables, hemorrhoid and diverticulum patients, and individuals who have undergone antibiotic treatments. However, probiotic supplementation is not recommended for gout patients and those aiming to lose weight through commercially available sugary yogurts.

# Correct Ways to Take Probiotics

1. Pairing with Vegetables Enhances Effects: Probiotics thrive in a high-fiber environment. Consuming probiotics alongside vegetables creates an environment conducive to their growth.

2. Supplementing Before Bed is Optimal: Bedtime is the best time to supplement probiotics as stomach acid secretion decreases during sleep, enhancing the survival rate of probiotic strains.

3. Diverse Strains Intake: Choosing food with live probiotics and consuming a variety of strains ensures comprehensive benefits.

4. Avoid Simultaneous Intake with Medications: Probiotics are vulnerable compared to antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria. For individuals undergoing antibiotic therapy, supplementation post-treatment or two hours after antibiotic ingestion is more effective.

5. Space Out Probiotic Intake: Avoid taking probiotics simultaneously with acidic substances like vinegar, alcohol, spicy foods, or medications. It is advisable to wait for at least two hours.

6. Moderate Intake of New Strains: Since people have different physiological conditions, reactions to certain strains may vary. Trying a new strain for a week and adjusting based on observed reactions is recommended.

Supplementing with probiotics aids in maintaining gut health. However, individuals should choose carefully based on their health conditions and dietary habits, ideally under the guidance of a healthcare professional.