Islamabad-Local and international health experts were of the agreement that probiotics — healthy bacteria — were effective and beneficial in curing and reducing the incidence and duration of rotavirus diarrhoea in infants and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in adults.

They said that probiotics also help improve irritable bowel infections and alleviation of digestive discomfort and other related complications. They said this while speaking at a session titled “Recent advances in microbiota and probiotics”, organised by Sanofi — a diversified healthcare pharmaceutical firm in Pakistan.

The speakers included Dr Nadeem Rehman, Dr Abdul Ghaffar Billoo, Prof Huma Arshad Cheema, Prof M Saleh Iqbal Miqdaday from UAE, Prof Irshad Ahmed, Prof Isabel Correia from Brazil and others.

The health experts were of the opinion that the medicine, which helps keep the gut healthy, was not only cost-effective but also risk-free with no side effects. Some of them said that the probiotics — the supplements available in medical stores in large numbers — will replace antibiotics to a great extent in the next couple of decades.

“Each human being contains about 1 kilogram of bacteria, both good and bad and the probiotics and prebiotics help the beneficial bacteria to develop a strong immune system to fight the bad bacteria,” said Prof Miqdaday. The experts were all praise for probiotics, which consume the food in human body and deny the same for bad bacteria, some of them were cautious saying that though the medicine was promising in most cases it may be inconsistent in curing serve infections that would need clinical intervention with antibiotics. The experts also said that probiotics if one loses healthy bacteria after using some antibiotics, probiotics help replace the good bacteria, they said. Probiotics were also very important for mothers from the very feeding days of a child and one must look for a particular probiotic for a particular disease, they said.

The experts were also of the view that not only the public but also medical practitioners and health experts were also needed to be aware of the medicine, which helps maintain normal balance in the intestinal tract.

They also said that probiotics were generally safe and it helps in preventing child mortality, curing jaundice fast and fighting cancerous diseases, if taken during the process of chemotherapy and relieve the symptoms of vaginal infections and urinary tract infections.  “By using antibodies or probiotics, we are actually knocking out microflora — a constellation of harmful microorganisms living in a human body,” Dr Billoo said.

While talking to The Nation, he said that yogurt and others fibres were simply probiotics and they were most effective in controlling diarrheal diseases.

He called for more and more such sessions in other parts of the country so that the awareness about probiotics spread quickly and people opted to the safe method of curing intestinal diseases and other related ailments.

The experts also shared that probiotics were also beneficial during pre and post-operation procedures.