What are probiotics?

“It is good if you can include probiotics into your daily routine as it can naturally cleanse your gut!” What are probiotics? Cleanse our guts? How? Probiotics are good bacteria that help to improve digestion problems and gut functions. Our gut is the largest immune organ in the body.

“Are we eating bacteria? Is it safe?” Do not worry! Probiotics are recognized by the Ministry of Health Malaysia in April 2017 and since then, various probiotic products including dairy products such as cultured milk drinks and yogurt have been introduced. However, does the product in your fridge really contain probiotics? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits to our body when consumed in adequate amounts. It may be found in some of our favorite foods that are produced using the process of fermentation such as tempeh, tapai, kimchi, natto, beverage products and supplements.   

Guidelines on how to choose the right probiotic products

The use of probiotics was gazetted under The Food Regulations 1985 to protect consumer rights. The Food Regulations 1985 provides a legal definition of probiotics and regulates the types of live cultures or beneficial bacteria that can be used as probiotics by food manufacturers. The regulation clearly points out the genuine probiotic-containing products.

Let’s follow tips from Dr. Tee E Siong, the Chairman of Probiotics Education Program (PEP) on how to choose the right probiotic products in market.

1. Ensure the product is approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH)

Only specific bacterial strains that have been recognized and approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) may be added into foods and beverages. Under The Food Regulations 1985, there are 32 probiotic strains permitted to be added into foods and beverages by food manufacturers. When you are buying a probiotic product, it is important to read the label and check the words “probiotic” to identify if the product is genuine.

2. Ensure the product contains “live organisms”

It is always a good idea to read the label of your probiotic products. We need to ensure the product labels “live cultures” or contain “live microorganisms” on the packaging. By definition, probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits to our body, and thus it is critical to ensure that the probiotic products you buy are genuine and safe to consume and meet the requirements of The Food Regulations 1985.

3. The product should contain adequate amounts of live bacteria

For a product to be considered probiotic product, the minimum probiotic count in a probiotic product should be at least 106 CFU/g or CFU/ml. The numbers of viable probiotic cultures are measured in colony forming units (CFU) which indicate the number of bacterial cells in the product.

For example, cultured-milk drink Yakult or specifically known as Shirota probiotic drink contains 30 x 109 CFU/ml, which means this product contains over 30 billions of live beneficial bacteria Lacticaseibacillus paracasei Shirota strain in each bottle.

You can find all the information above on the product packaging of Yakult, whether you buy the Yakult products from the supermarket, Yakult Lady, or your favorite E-commerce sites.

The benefits of Shirota probiotic strain

Naturally, the human body contains trillions of microorganisms that consist of good and bad bacteria which live in our gut. The trillions of microorganisms residing in our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota. The gut microbiota is considered healthy and balanced when the ratio of the number of good bacteria is greater than the number of bad bacteria. Most bacteria in the body are useful, but they may become harmful when out of balance.

However, various factors such as prolonged stress, unhealthy eating, aging, infections and intake of antibiotics or other medications may disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiota gut. When the bacteria in your gut becomes imbalanced, you are likely experience gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and fatigue.

          1. Add the number of good bacteria and reduce the bad bacteria

Our gut is the home to a diverse community that consists of good and bad bacteria. Taking probiotics may help build and restore the good bacteria in our gut and help to eliminate bad bacteria, and subsequently balance the gut microbiota.

          2. Help to reduce toxin production

By consuming probiotic products, bad bacteria can be reduced in the gut which can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and toxins produced by bad bacteria.

          3. Improve your digestion

When your gut microbiota is out of balance, you may be more likely to have digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea.

Constipation is a symptom when bowel movements become less frequent, and stools become difficult to pass for more than three days. There are substantial scientific evidences to support the use of Shirota probiotic strain that is effective to soften the stools and improve gut movement.

Diarrhea is a symptom where by you experience frequent, loose and watery stools than usual. Diarrhea usually happens because of bacterial infections, food allergies, and medication like antibiotics. Taking probiotics may help prevent and treat symptoms of diarrhea by restoring the balance of bacteria within the intestinal tract.

          4. Boost your immune system  

Our gut is not only our digestive system, it also plays a crucial role as part of the immune system. Did you know that 80% of our immune system is found in your gut? Maintaining our gut health and regular intake of probiotic products are important to strengthen our gut, so it will have optimal immune function to protect you against bacterial and viral infections

When is the best time to drink Shirota strain probiotics drink?

The answer is anytime! Anytime of the day is a good time to drink Yakult!

Some good bacteria in our gut can be eliminated during the process of bowel movement. Therefore, consuming probiotic products regularly could be important to ensure the good bacteria in our gut keeps changing and stays on track.

All in all, it is great to add Yakult into your daily routine at a time that is convenient for you as it is quick and easy. To get the most out of Yakult’s benefits, drink at least once a day. Have you taken Yakult today?

Is Shirota probiotic strain good for kids?

It is a simple fact that kids are more prone to infections because their immune systems are still developing. It is crucial to focus on the children’s development of a healthy gut and strong immune system to keep them healthy and active.

Shirota probiotic strain is generally considered safe for kids aged 1 year or above. It is recommended to drink one bottle a day for children as Yakult is a probiotic in the form of a cultured milk drink, and not a thirst-quencher.

If you are concerned with the sugar content in each little bottle of Yakult, sugar plays an important role in Yakult as the food source to keep the 30 billion Shirota probiotic strain alive, in order to improve gut functions. Sugar is needed to balance the sour taste of lactic acid produced by Shirota probiotic strain. Otherwise, you can choose Yakult Ace Light as it is a lighter version with lesser sugar and calories but with the same great taste.

Again, you can practice eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, exercise, manage stress levels and add probiotics such as Shirota probiotic drink in your daily routine to ensure our gut microbiota is in the optimum levels.

Go get your Yakult Now!

References:

Sur D, Manna B, Niyogi SK, Ramamurthy T, Palit A, Nomoto K, Takahashi T, Shima T, Tsuji H, Kurakawa T, Takeda Y, Nair GB, Bhattacharya SK. 2010. Role of probiotic in preventing acute diarrhoea in children: a community-based, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled field trial in an urban slum. Epidemiol Infect 30: 1-8

Sakai T, Makino H, Ishikawa E, Oishi K, Kushiro A. 2011. Fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota reeduces incidence of hard or lumpy stools in healthy population. International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition: 1-8.

Tsuji H, Chonan O, Suyama Y, Kado Y, Nomoto K, Nanno M, Ishikawa F. Maintenance of Healthy Intestinal Microbiota in Women Who Regularly Consume Probiotics. 2014. Int. Jr. of Probiotics and Prebiotics Vol. 9, No. 1/2 : 31-38.

Kazuyoshi Takeda, Ko Okumura, Effects of a Fermented Milk Drink Containing Lactobacillus casei Strain Shirota on the Human NK-Cell Activity, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 137, Issue 3, March 2007, Pages 791S–793S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/137.3.791S

http://www.myhealth.gov.my/cirit-birit-3/