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ICMR to study if probiotics are good for health

Aug 08, 2011 09:54 AM IST India India

New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research is now taking up a large scale research to study if probiotics can be an used as an alternative medicine for women and children's health. The Rs 20.6 million industry in India, has been quite a rage since probiotic products hit store shelves five years ago.

One can pick from curd (already a natural probiotic product), tofu, milk, even get their ice-cream fermented with millions of good bacteria.

Starting from August 15, the ICMR is going to study 400 strains of probiotics as possible alternatives to antibiotics in severe viral infections, infectious diarrhea, reducing pre-term birth and even to prevent transmitting the HiV virus through breast milk.

Mumbai Fortis Hospital Nutritionist Purva Duggal said, "The mechanism by which it actually facilitates or promotes health is by something known as competitive elimination where actually the probiotics, once ingested, compete for nutrient and space in our body thereby, they stop the growth of unwanted bacteria and once ingested, they will result in production of lactic acid which actually helps in eliminating the growth of the harmful bacteria."

Probiotic products can ease indigestion and acidity. In fact a study at Ohio University this year found a particular strain of probiotics, was nearly as good as antibiotics in treating diarrhea in children. But products need constant refrigeration - which was not mentioned on product labels, until the ICMR recently released guidelines.

Stress, alcohol, caffeine and medications are all killers when it comes to one's body's natural good bacteria. Probiotics can boost one's immunity, but till now, they are no substitutes of regular medications. Also, some people tend to have an intolerance towards probiotics, so one should always check with their doctors as to what suits them.