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Probiotics: A Friend You Can Count On

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on February 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Hand on belly

It may be unbelievable to think that ingesting bacteria is helpful to your health but in the case of probiotics it’s completely true. Probiotics are good bacteria that are normally found in our body to help keep us healthy. Most people believe that bacteria are only responsible for causing disease but they also play an important role in our overall health. There are more than 500 different types of bacteria that aid digestion, help the body absorb vital nutrients from the digestive tract and stop the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses to boost your immunity.

Amazingly enough, as probiotics enhance the functioning of the digestive tract, they keep the whole body healthy. The medical community is beginning to use probiotics as a treatment for Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and to treat diarrhea in young children and babies. You may find that your doctor recommends probiotics when taking birth control or antibiotics to keep your good bacteria in balance.

Nutrition is still the best way to get a healthy dose of probiotics. There are many brands of yogurt, cheese and dairy beverages on the store shelves that are a good way to get probiotics. You can also find probiotics in miso, soy beverages and some juices. By 2003 Americans had already spent about triple the money on products containing probiotics compared to previous years. So no wonder food manufacturers are eager to cash in on this trend, so be careful to buy only products that say they contain live and active cultures, otherwise you may not actually be getting any of the probiotics that you are paying for.

Supplements can also provide probiotics in the form of capsules, powders and tablets. These supplements usually contain Lactobacillus acidophilus with other probiotics like Bifidus, which are both species of bacteria found in the digestive tract of healthy individuals.

The health benefits of probiotics vary widely. Some people take probiotics to combat gas, diarrhea, constipation and stomach cramping. These symptoms may be alone or part of an illness like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s disease. In addition there are some probiotics that are less well known that are for a healthy mouth, teeth and gum, as well as some used for treatments of children’s respiratory infections. Many people use probiotics to combat skin infections, skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or unexplained rashes. No matter what your health condition you may find some benefit from adding probiotics to your diet.

bloating

Studies are showing that we are only at the beginning of understanding probiotics. We will have probiotics in the future for the prevention of most illnesses. For example probiotics are known to strengthen immune defenses and this has implications in cancer and HIV/AIDS treatments.

For the time being, enough is known about probiotics to convince me to consume foods and supplements to get some probiotics daily. A serving of yogurt every day will at the very least make your digestive system run more efficiently and in turn make you feel better.

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