Saturday, November 15, 2008


I know most of you have heard of them. Either acidophilus or bifidobacterium... it's what makes yogurt, well, yogurt.

But why the bacteria? Don't we live in an anti-bacterial society?

What most of us do know is that we always have bacteria in our bodies. But here's some reasons why good bacteria is so important.
  • They help to fight off any bad bacteria that does happen to make it through your stomach. You see, stomach acid deteriorates most live bacteria, so if you get some bad in, it's taken care of way before it gets to your intestines. Probiotics can actually withstand this process.
  • Because they fight bad bacteria, your immune systems is free to do what it does best: look for invaders.
  • If you are taking antibiotics, probiotics are especially helpful in keeping your GI system on track. There's a reason why mom was always shoving yogurt down your throat when you were sick.
  • It's also helpful to take probiotics after traveling abroad, because of exposure to foreign bacterium.
  • Studies have found that probiotics may improve nutrient bioavailability for B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and phosphorus, among others.
  • Parents have reported a 25 percent decrease in diaper rash among babies drinking formula containing probiotics.
  • Probiotics and active bacteria culture may improve lactose intolerance. The bacterial strain commonly used in yogurt can produce lactase enzymes. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance and children suffering from intestinal infection can usually tolerate yogurt with an active culture.
  • Some studies have shown that by regulating intestinal transit time, probiotics ease constipation.
  • Other studies have shown that probiotics, especially acidophilus, promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the conversion of bile into carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
  • Some studies have found that probiotics may enhance immunity by regulating lymphocytes and antibodies.

Now that you're convinced about the wonderful properties of probiotics, you're wondering where you can get them, right? We've already gone over yogurt, you can also find a yogurt type drink called kefir in the dairy case. Some drinks have it added, but what you're looking for specifically is the term "live, active cultures".

If you're like me and can't really do so much dairy products, you can find them in a capsule form at nearly every pharmacy. They are available OTC and have different brand names; a few that I've seen are Culturelle and Align. Just make sure they have a high amount of cultures, somewhere around a billion. And remember to make sure they're gluten free!!!

The info was taken from the following newspaper article and the Digestive Health Smart Brief published by the American College of Gastroenterology.

Click here for the article.

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