Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as "live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit upon the host." The main benefit of probiotics is that they help restore balance in the intestinal microbiota. Probiotics play a role in defining and maintaining the delicate balance between necessary and excessive defence mechanisms including innate and adaptive immune responses

Looking at probiotics to support immune health is nothing new; the idea has existed for more than 100 years. For millennia, humans have consumed microorganisms via fermented foods. The gut microbiota performs important metabolic and immunological tasks, and the impairment of its composition might alter homeostasis and lead to the development of microbiota-related diseases.

“All diseases begin in the gut”

Both microbial diversity and its abundance in the gut play an important role in maintaining human health. The attachment, growth, and penetration of pathogenic microorganisms on the gut surface can essentially be prevented by microbiota. Pathogen resistance, both by direct interaction with pathogenic bacteria and by influencing the immune system, is influenced greatly by the intestinal microbiota.

Many diseases start with an initial imbalance of human resident microflora. One key player in immune health is the gut, a part of the body that is constantly exposed to toxins and foreign antigens, such as those from food and microbes.

 According to nutrition and immune expert Meydani, “The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, accounting for 25% of the immune cells in the body that provide 50% of the body’s immune response.” Meydani called intestinal flora “forgotten organ” because of their vital but still underestimated health functions. There are more than 400 species of bacteria residing in the gut, there are 100 trillion bacteria in our intestines. They form an ecosystem like a “flower garden, reported Haruji Sawada, director of the Yakult Central Institute.

 The mammalian gut immune system should be viewed as a complex interplay between physical, chemical, and cellular barriers, a vast community of bacteria, and a plethora of host immune cells which mediate innate and adaptive immunity. The intestinal microbiota helps in proper development of the host immune system, which in turn regulates the homeostasis of the microbiota.

The Immune system and microbiota interaction should be finely balanced and any disorder of this interaction would result in microbiota and immune dysbiosis, leading to inflammatory disorders like (inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, CVD etc). In addition, the practice of strict hygienic and sanitary conditions and consumption of highly processed foods containing high fat, high carbohydrate, and low fiber with numerous food additives and preservatives may account for altered microbial composition, metabolism, and interaction with host immunity. Nearly all the abovediseases are characterized by local as well as systemic low-grade chronic or subclinical inflammation in which the inflammation originated in the intestine via the interaction between host immune system and microbiota.Several beneficial effects of probiotics on the host intestinal mucosal defense system, including blocking pathogenic bacterial effects by producing bactericidal substances and competing with pathogens and toxins for adherence to the intestinal epithelium, have been identified. Probiotics promote intestinal epithelial cell survival, enhance barrier function, and stimulate protective responses from intestinal epithelial cells.

 

Conclusion-

Maintaining a beneficial healthy gut bacterium is extremely important. If your gut is lacking in those healthy bacteria, our body cannot digest nutrients efficiently, no matter how much healthy food we eat. Although research is still emerging, but probiotics appear to provide benefits for several different conditions and may also support better general health. Eating fermented foods frequently will help to maintain the good gut friendly microflora for general health. Also, taking the right type of probiotics may help you target specific health problems and improve overall health and quality of life. Improving gut health, will be worth a shot. Afterall, if your gut is not healthy, you would not be either!