Probiotics: What are they ?

nephroplus | November 1, 2018

By Mrinal Pandit, Chief Dietician, NephroPlus
Pro Biotics are live microorganism that improves the bacterial flora, which are responsible for good digestion and immunity.  Many of us often relate bacteria or microorganism as germs, but this microorganism help body function properly.

When the body is loaded with good bacteria, it pushes, yeast, fungi and other disease triggering bacteria out of the system.


What do gut flora do?

-It helps the synthesis of Vitamin K and B complex

-Enhance gastrointestinal motility and function

-Enhance digestion and nutrient absorption

-Obstruct the growth of “bad bacteria” and other pathogens

-Produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and polyamines

-Produce coagulation and growth factors

-Help regulate intestinal mucus secretion and utilization


What causes good flora to diminish?


-Long term use of medication, especially, antibiotics

-Stress hormones may encourage bad bacteria growth

-Poor diet e.g. sugar, preservatives, alcohol, processed foods, over-eating, inadequate fiber can be one of the leading factors

-Aggressive medical therapies such as radiation or chemotherapy


How are probiotics useful?


-Probiotics improve immunity

-Increases good flora, which aids in digestion

-Helps relieve constipation

-Reduces the harmful effects of high doses of medicines

-Replenish the stores of good bacteria in the system



Can we find them in the daily diet?


Yes. They are formed in the process of fermentation. Probiotics naturally occur in yogurt, buttermilk, kefir (fermented milk), sauerkraut, kimchi, and bacterially cultured cheese. It is usually recommended to include 2-3 serving of dietary probiotic in the meal every day.


What happens if they are taken in excess?


The probiotic bacteria used in commercial products  are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are similar to the microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies. It is safe for the majority of the population, but side effects can occur. Taking large amounts of dietary probiotics may lead to temporary flatulence, bloating and stomach upset. However, omitting the dose will help body recover from GI symptoms.


Is there any commercially available probiotic in the market?


Probiotic supplements are available in the form of drinks, capsules and dietary supplements under various brands.



How are probiotics helpful for Patient with CKD?


Patients with CKD often complain of indigestion, bloating and acid reflux. Introducing good flora and restoring the balance, will favorably impact the CKD patient as it would to any other individual. It will offer the benefits of healthy digestion and improved immunity. Reducing uremic toxins by probiotics has shown assurance in various studies. However, lack of significant data at this time is restricting health care providers to recommend and specific product with confidence. Availability of probiotic that specifically target uremic toxins is limited as well.


The commercially available probiotics supplement can be preferred over dietary sources, due to high content of sodium, potassium, phosphorus and sugar  in the food sources containing probiotics. Moreover, you can control the quantity of probiotic ingested. Studies suggest, for good health benefits and GI improvement blend of bacteria forming 10 billion colonies should be taken daily. Overall, probiotics can help resolve issues like constipation, diarrhea, and prevent diarrhea associated with higher doses of antibiotics. They may not promise reducing uremic toxins, but can potentially improve quality of life, digestion, nutrient absorption and  improve appetite.


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1 Comment

  • Excellent and informative article…

    Usha Balu .