Probiotics 101

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What are probiotics? 

Probiotics are living microorganisms that, when ingested, provide numerous health benefits. They’re usually bacteria, but certain types of yeasts can also function as probiotics.

Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics, which are dietary fibres that are food to the probiotics.

You can get probiotics from supplements, as well as from foods prepared by bacterial fermentation or that have naturally occurring probiotics.  

Probiotics explained:

Probiotics food examples:

  • Yoghurt (particularly plain yoghurt or Greek yoghurt 
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • tempeh 
  • kimchi
  • Sour milk (Maas) and buttermilk 
  • Other fermented or pickled vegetables 
  • Fermented drinks e.g. Kombucha 

Different Probiotics

Dozens of different probiotic bacteria offer health benefits. The most common group of probiotics s include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium groups. Each group comprises of different species, and each species has many strains.

Interestingly, different probiotics address different health conditions. Therefore, choosing the right type — or types — of probiotic is essential.

Benefits of Probiotics: 

There is strong scientific research that provides benefits of probiotics such as: 

    • Our gut flora consists of hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Probiotics help your gut flora perform optimally
    • Probiotics are effective against various digestive problems, including antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, constipation and IBS
    • Though more research is necessary, some evidence suggests that certain probiotic strains can help people lose weight
    • Probiotics may also improve heart health, skin health, immune function and symptoms of depression and anxiety
    • More research is needed to support the use of probiotics for the purpose of restoring gut flora during the antibiotic cause

Side note: Antibiotics help kill harmful bacteria in our bodies, unfortunately they also erode good bacteria. There has been a practice of doctors recommending probiotics with antibiotic cause to help restore good gut flora.

Probiotics Supplements: 

Taking the right type of probiotics may help you target specific health issues and improve your overall health and quality of life. They are several types of different probiotics strains that are used in probiotics supplement, you need to understand what you need probiotic for so you can choose a right supplement.

Supplements also differ in how they combine probiotics – Some supplements — known as broad-spectrum probiotics or multi-probiotics — combine different species in the same product. 


Maintaining a healthy gut is important, this can be achieved through healthy Day-to-day diet and exercise as important aspects of many lifestyle factors impact your gut bacteria. Taking Probiotic Supplement is also recommended for those who do not consume enough probiotic foods.  Probiotic supplements offer a wide range of benefits with few side effects — so if you’re interested in improving your gut health, they could be worth a shot.

Yours In Health

Mbali Mapholi


Author: Mbali Mapholi Inc

Mbali is a qualified clinical dietitian (Bsc. dietetics & PGDip dietetics) obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In dietetics she has special interest in Heart and heart related diseases, gastrointestinal (GIT) related diseases, weight management and African diet nutrition. She is a business woman with entities MiNutrition ZA and Mbali Mapholi Inc, under her belt. She is well published in the field of Nutrition with ray of media contributions (Radio, television and print media). Mbali believes is the type of eating that is nourishing, enjoyable, accessible and affordable. She believes in that nutrition education that is based on science delivered by a trusted source, is important to help people make informed nutrition decisions for themselves and those around them.

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