Not all bacteria are bad. There are some which are actually beneficial to the body. Falling under the good bacteria category are those called probiotics. These are similar to the good bacteria found in the human gut which help aid proper digestion. They were discovered by Elie Metchnikoff who was a microbiologist from Russia and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.
The most common kind of probiotic available in food is lactobacillus acidophilus which can be found in cultured foods like yogurt and those with other live cultures. Probiotics help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and when intestinal bacteria start causing health concerns like diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, probiotics balance their population and help reduce the discomfort and worsening of the situation.
How do probiotics help pregnant women?
Pregnancy comes with a host of ailments related to the digestive system and probiotics help pregnant women suffer less from these conditions. Some conditions which probiotics can help with during pregnancy include:
- Intestinal cramping
When pregnant women integrate probiotic-rich food in their diets, they help make their gastrointestinal tract have a better environment. Probiotics help provide relief from constipation by regulating bowel movements. These good bacteria also help regulate the normal motion of the digestive system; thus, lessening heartburns and intestinal cramping.
The benefits of probiotics don't just stop at improving the state of pregnant women's digestive system. Probiotics also help boost the immune system of not just the mother but the baby's as well. These good bacteria help ward off colds and other diseases to lessen health complications that the baby may experience during the time of pregnancy.
Research is still ongoing about how probiotics can help pregnant women but one other good effect they have is helping to prevent eczemas to form during pregnancy.
What foods are rich in probiotics?
Good bacteria like probiotics can be found mostly in dairy products which have undergone fermentation. The top sources and most easily accessible food groups which contain probiotics which are beneficial for the digestive system and pregnancy include:
- Sour cream
- Soy products
Another great thing about probiotics is that they are available in foods which are easily accessible and found in the supermarket. However, there are also probiotic supplements which can be bought over the counter. They are available in either capsule or powder form.
Things to Remember Before Adding Probiotics to a Pregnant Woman's Diet
Because pregnancy is a sensitive stage in a woman's life, it is highly important to thoroughly evaluate the factors and benefits which one can get from probiotics. Just because it works for one doesn't mean it will have the same effects on another. Some considerations include:
- Lactose intolerance
- Remember to pick pasteurized products
- Are these food items approved by the physician?
While there are benefits to be had from adding probiotic-rich foods to a pregnant woman's diet, the above factors should be taken into consideration to lessen the risks of adding instead of lessening complications during pregnancy.
It is still best to talk with a physician before purchasing supplements or probiotic-rich food items intended to be added to a pregnant woman's diet. The benefits of probiotics during pregnancy reduces several discomforts, but it is better to be careful and think of the bigger picture before making changes to a pregnant woman's nutrition.