“Bacteria” – a negative word, right? Not necessarily. If a bacterium comes in probiotic form, you ought to jump at the chance to take it in. It’s about time the good bacteria stop getting a bum rap.
Just look at the origin of the word. Stemming from Greek, pro means “promoting” and biotic means “life.” Probiotics work to promote life in a variety of beneficial ways.
Put Your Digestive Tract on the Right Track.
Your digestive tract should contain a balance of good and bad bacteria. Because of the abundance of bad bacteria you’re exposed to, taking in probiotics (the good bacteria) can help you better reach this balance.
Your digestive tract becomes more healthy:
- Probiotics protect the gut wall. The gut wall surrounds the gut and is important for immunological purposes. Healthy bacteria aid the gut wall in preventing gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses and protect you from food intolerances.
- Going through irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? This could mean that you may benefit from bifantis and lactobacillus, two types of good bacteria found in the colon. Research has shown that taking a probiotic may help alleviate the symptoms of IBS and other GI conditions such as infectious and antibiotic induced diarrhea.
Let Your Immune System Live Up to Its Potential.
Your immune system can be helped from probiotics. They offset the effects of germs and assist the immune system in fending off:
- Allergic reactions
- Autoimmune disorders (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
How Can You Obtain These Probiotics?
You can eat any of the several foods containing the good bacteria.
The most commonly recognized food is yogurt, which has been proven to lessen the intensity of conditions including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, allergies, lactose intolerance and type 2 diabetes.
Other foods you can eat include:
- Kefir – A mixture of goat’s milk and fermented grains, kefir contains antioxidants and the probiotic known as bifidus bacteria.
- Dark chocolate – The richest kinds have four times as much probiotic power as many dairy products do.
- Sauerkraut – This contains live cultures that are good for our GI health, is also rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, and can tame several allergy symptoms.
- Miso soup – Used as a medicine in Japanese culture, its probiotic characteristics may provide a conglomeration of nutrients. Research in lab animals showed that miso may potentially prevent the effects of carcinogen exposure by reducing precancerous changes and colon cancer. Miso may lower the impact of environmental pollution on overall health. Keep in mind that miso is high in salt so use it in moderation.
What About Supplements?
There is a multitude of supplements you can purchase as well. But what constitutes an effective, high-quality probiotic supplement? A few things:
- It’s long-lasting.
- It has a track record of surviving the journey through the stomach and into the intestine, and then thriving in the intestine.
- The container it comes in has specific directions on how much to include in a dose.
- It’s strain specific.
Let’s clarify the last bullet. The label on your supplement most likely tells you what types of good bacteria it contains. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it! These classifications of bacteria are called strains, and one of the most consistently effective strains has the name lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 (the DDS-1 is an important part). To see bacterial strains discussed in further detail, as well as to find out the names of some other well-regarded strains, take a look at this page found on MedicineNet.com.
The pros (pun intended) typically do outweigh the cons when it comes to taking probiotic supplements. But if you’re thinking about taking probiotic supplements, talk with your doctor first. Not all supplements are required to be FDA approved and, therefore, don’t have to go through extensive testing like other drugs. Also, your doctor may want to check you for conditions, such as a weakened immune system, which could prevent you from reacting well to these supplements.
Time to be Proactive!
Now, it’s time for you to utilize this good bacteria and help prepare your body for the future. Speak with your doctor or registered dietician about what may be the best option for you when it comes to taking probiotics.
Join the conversation. Tell us about your experience with probiotics, any advice you may have regarding specific foods or supplements to take, or any additional information that may further encourage readers to take action and be pro-probiotic.