The increasing popularity of probiotics and their health benefits has determined many people to reconsider their diet and eating habits and have more of these friendly bacteria.
While more research is still needed in order to know exactly the way these tiny microorganisms work, several studies have pointed to certain health benefits probiotics trigger.
These health improvements are gradually being more appreciated and dietitians recommend the use of probiotics on a regular basis in order to notice health improvements.
Now, there’s a lot to say here but one thing is for sure according to several research studies, the friendly bacteria in our gut have an important role in building a strong health.
What about probiotics and pregnancy? Are there any side effects of probiotic use during pregnancy? Let’s find out together.
Are probiotics safe during pregnancy?
The answer is they’re probably safe. As you can very well see, the trick is in this tiny “probably”. Since there’s limited research yet a great variety of probiotics, scientists and health experts have not declared that probiotics are completely safe during pregnancy. More research is needed before knowing everything about the way the “bowel bacteria” work and affect our health.
According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), the probability of contracting bacteremia from taking Lactobacillus probiotics is under 1 for every 1 million, and the probability of getting fungemia from Saccharomyces boulardii is around 1 for each 5.6 million people taking the probiotic.
What do studies say about taking probiotics while pregnant?
As we’ve said before there’s limited research on the use of probiotics during pregnancy. Still, the few studies carried out so far have not found any associations with probiotic use and miscarriages or malformations of any kind.
Moreover, a meta-investigation by Canadian scientists found no relationship between probiotic use and the occurrence of Cesarean section, birth weight, or gestational age.
Dietitian and nutritionist Annie Jolicoeur says that probiotics “have a beneficial effect on the mother’s intestinal flora as well as on the infant’s developing flora” and that “a multi-strain probiotic supplement, such as Probaclac, can significantly reduce a woman’s risk of suffering from gestational diabetes”. Moreover, she adds that probiotics can improve blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, one study by the Natural Medicine Journal reported that the use of probiotics during pregnancy decreased the probabilities of gestational diabetes mellitus.
How do probiotics work during pregnancy?
We don’t know everything about probiotics and there’s a lot of debate when it comes to the way they work and scientists are still investigating the exact mechanism of probiotics.
One thing seems to be obvious, or at least, logical: bad bacteria attack one’s body and good bacteria attack these harmful microorganisms. When bad bacteria take over, several health conditions occur.
Therefore, one assumption is that probiotics help us keep a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria.
When they succeed in keeping bad bacteria at bay, the potential of getting certain health infections or other health conditions can be lowered as well.
Benefits of probiotics during pregnancy
The good bacteria, whether from foods or supplements, help your digestive system work all the more productively. As noted above, probiotics are expected to reduce the number of harmful microorganisms.
By helping your intestine to move food along and diminishing the bad bacteria in your gut, you can lower the probability of experiencing certain health conditions.
Several studies have concluded that the benefits of probiotics use during pregnancy include the following:
- Pregnant women who take probiotics are less vulnerable to preeclampsia, a condition that involves hypertension as well as an irregular measure of protein in the urine. Hypertension in pregnant women increases the risk of miscarriage and preterm delivery of a low birth weight or stillborn child.
- The use of probiotics during pregnancy can help fight yeast infections.
- Taking probiotics while pregnant can help the baby be less susceptible to lactose intolerance.
- Probiotics boost both the mother’s and the baby’s immune system.
- Probiotics are known for promoting a healthy digestive system. Constipation and diarrhea are common discomforts during pregnancy. Pregnant women who take probiotics can reduce the risk of diarrhea.
- The use of probiotic supplements during pregnancy or breastfeeding can reduce the occurrence of infantile atopic dermatitis, or skin inflammation. Moreover, we realize that infantile dermatitis is frequently connected with asthma and different sorts of allergies. Probiotics can help reduce these infant allergies according to the results of a recent study presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Babies whose mothers took probiotic lactobacilli while pregnant had a 7 percent decreased danger for skin inflammation at six months of age and a 12 percent reduced danger for hay fever at 18 to 36 months.
Sources of probiotics
You can boost your intake of probiotics by including the following into your diet:
- lassi (an Indian yogurt);
- Tempeh (like thick veggie burgers, tempeh is produced using cooked matured soybeans);
- raw vegetables.
The most popular probiotic is lactobacillus acidophilus which can be found in yogurt and cultured foods. Look for the phrase “live and active cultures” on the label.
However, it is said that probiotics supplements come with higher efficacy because of the coatings and ingredients they contain to shield their substance from the gastric acids.
Still, there are many factors the efficacy of probiotics depends on. One’s age, microflora state and diet contribute directly to the viability of probiotics and make it difficult to offer broad recommendations regarding the use of probiotics.
No matter the supplements you want to include in your diet, make sure you always check it with your doctor and get his approval before taking them.
Pregnant women should pay utmost attention to what they consume. Therefore, regular visits to a doctor and dietitian are among the important steps to take.