Curd, Buttermilk, Idly... Benefits of Probiotics

In our body, not all germs or bacteria cause harm but there are certain germs or bacteria that do good to our health. Such bacteria are known as ‘probiotic bacteria’ and the food that carries this is known as ‘probiotic food’ in medical field.

The benefits of probiotics to our health are numerous. Probiotic bacteria is abundant in the traditionally prepared pickles, paneer and left-over rice porridge. The left-over rice porridge, in particular, contains lot of good bacterias in addition to the probiotic bacteria.

The most surprising fact is that the germs in our body and intestine are ten times greater than the number of cells our body has. Right from our mouth to the anus, the germs do pervade in large quantity.

In our body, not all germs or bacteria cause harm but there are certain germs or bacteria that do good to our health. Such bacteria are known as ‘probiotic bacteria’ and the food that carries this is known as ‘probiotic food’ in medical field. Some yeast materials are included in this category.

The chief benefits of food products that contain probiotics are

a). It will reduce the number of harmful bacteria in our intestine;

b). It will improve the immunity level and

c). It can rectify the lactose intolerance that exists in the sugary milk.

There are some bacterias which are directly connected with our nervous system. The connection is so strong and deep that if the quantity of this gets reduced, it will cause temporary slow-down of our brain, tension and stress, as per research study.

It is observed that when we take antibiotic medicines for our ailments, the good bacterias in the intestine will be destroyed. In order to avoid this problem, doctors prescribe probiotic food or medicines so that the good bacterias can be saved. This practice is being followed nowadays. This is otherwise one of the ill effects of taking too much of antibiotic medicines. In particular, we should not give self-medication to the infants without the consultation and prescription issued by the child specialists.

Common probiotic foods that we know:-

Buttermilk is the commonest of all. Especially, when we suffer from diarrhea, we can take plenty of buttermilk which will replace the water in our body and regularise digestion. It will also increase the good bacterias and balance the immune system. Fried items like vathal can be soaked in buttermilk so that the probiotic quality will increase. Instead of taking the oil fried items directly, we can mix vathal with buttermilk and drink. The benefits will be obviously more.

The choornam or the essence in the form of semi-liquid state, prepared from the base of buttermilk or curd will enormously increase the good bacterias in the intestine according to Siddha medicine. These substances will strengthen the intestine.

Consumption of idly from the fermented flour, buttermilk-based kuzhambu, raw buttermilk and curd are our traditional probiotic food items. They will increase the probiotic bacterias in our body. Pickles, paneer and left-over porridge, prepared without preservatives will do lot of good for our health. They are rich in probiotic bacteria. The porridge contains good amount of good bacterias.

The food items that are meant for probiotic are known as prebiotic Asparagus (thanneer vittan kizhangu), banana, honey and dhal varieties are some of the prebiotics. The ghee and the essence prepared from asparagus will stimulate our body and improve the immunity level. The different varieties of dhal and banana are our traditional edibles. They will constantly help the good bacterias that are present in our intestine. In the category of salad, we can include more of bananas.


Some of the Siddha medicines are required to be administered with honey which is prebiotic. Honey is a universal remedy which is why it is served in all traditional rituals and functions in our home. One important point that needs to be observed is that the honey should be used in an unadulterated state. Commercial honey is nothing but adulterated one which is of no use to us.

When we take synthetic probiotics in an improper manner, it will result in gas creation in the stomach, stomach disorder etc. Probiotics should be taken in consultation with the doctor and as per dosage prescribed by him. Probiotics can ideally be taken in food form instead of medicine. Lactobacillus, bifidobacteria and saccharomyces bacteria (yeast) are some of the probiotic types.

Comparatively speaking, we were once getting the probiotic bacteria from the naturally grown vegetables, fruits and churned buttermilk. These good bacterias used to protect our digestive system automatically. However, nowadays, that is not the case; rather, we are getting them in artificial and adulterated manner which is highly harmful to our body. It would be better if we revive the old system for our well-being.

(This article written in Tamil by Dr V Vikaramkumar MD(S) has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)

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