The human body is estimated to have about 35 trillion cells, and about two to three times as many microbial organisms. Most of them live in the gastrointestinal tract, which is home to around 3,000-4,000 species of bacteria, not including viruses and other life forms. Some are harmful and many are not.
Building on a growing, global scientific interest in the human microbiome — the colony of bacteria and microscopic forms that live in the gut, skin and other organs of the body — the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh (IMTech), is working on a programme to tap its vast collection of microbial samples and develop therapeutic products or drugs.
- Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for health, especially thedigestive system.
- Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep the gut healthy.
- Probiotics are naturally found in the body. It can also be found in some foods and supplements.
The global probiotics industry has already started using certain species of bacteria as healing or curative agents. Mother Dairy, Amul, Danone Yakult, and Nestle India are among the leading producers of probiotic functional foods and beverages in India.
How do Probiotics work?
- When the body loses "good" bacteria from the body (like after taking antibiotics, for example), probiotics can help replace them.
- They can help balance the "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep the body working like it should.
Types of Probiotics
- Lactobacillus: This may be the most common probiotic. It’s the one found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhoea and may help with people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
- Bifidobacterium: It can also be found in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions.
On the other hand, burgeoning evidence suggests that atherosclerosis, obesity, intestinal problems, and many psychological disorders lead to distinct changes in the composition of bacteria in the gut. Restoring balance or teasing out how the by-products of these organisms lead to chemical changes that cause disease, is at the heart of this research.