Walking Guide

Probiotics: A Billion Good Bugs

Did you know that your digestive tract contains more than 400 types of “friendly” bacteria? These little guys, commonly referred to as probiotics (which means "pro-life"), help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. That’s right! Probiotics are live bacteria with clinically-documented health benefits.

Health Benefits
It appears that when the digestive system is kept healthy, other body systems greatly benefit as well. Probiotics may:
  • Protect against infection
  • Enhance and boost the immune system
  • Promote and improve digestive health
  • Alleviate diarrhea caused by antibiotic treatments
  • Promote urinary and genital health
  • Assist in the management of inflammation
  • Help alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance
  • Improve some types of eczema in infants and children
  • Reduce cholesterol levels
  • Decrease the risk of certain cancers
It is important to note that each type of friendly bacteria has a specific health benefit to the body. With over 400 different types of probiotics identified, researchers are just starting to uncover the health roles and benefits of each.

Food Sources
Currently, foods that contain probiotics are primarily dairy products and dairy beverages, including:
  • Yogurt
  • Drinkable and squeezable yogurts
  • Fluid milk with added probiotics
  • Fermented milk such as sweet acidophilus milk
  • Kefir
Through fermentation, probiotics enhance the flavor and texture of these particular dairy products. Dairy foods actually buffer your stomach acid and bile, thereby protecting the probiotics from the stomach acid so that they can reach the intestines.

Raw (unpasteurized) yogurt is loaded with bacteria. Most yogurts today are pasteurized and these bacteria are killed. However, some friendly bacteria are added back. Look for a yogurt that contains the “live and active culture” sign on the label. Pay close attention to the expiration date because these live bacterial cultures can diminish with time.

Probiotic Supplements
Probiotic supplements are available in a variety of forms, such as freeze dried powder, capsules, wafers, and liquids. Remember to exercise caution before using a probiotic supplement. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements in the same way as it regulates medication. Legally, manufacturers can sell supplements, even with little or no research on how well it works or how safe it is.

Supplement and medication reactions can occur, therefore seek the guidance of your health care provider before using any probiotic supplement.

Grab Some Bugs!
Why not give some fermented dairy products a try today? Little Miss Muffet did! Remember her curds and whey—a fermented dairy product filled with friendly bacteria? That old spider probably came and sat down be side her…because he wanted the probiotic benefits too!
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Member Comments

PROBIOTICS2
Informative post
Is there any specific time to take these probiotics?

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A great one! Thank you! Report
Can be a great help for those who need them. Report
PRIYANKA1816
I thought that probiotics are medicines but actually, they are not. Our digestive system is an idol place for bacteria, so we need to maintain a balance between healthy and bad bacteria. Probiotics are healthy bacteria which help in better digestion. After consuming Yakult for a long time I can see several positive changes in my health, my digestion become strong, I have better bowel moment and also got better immunity. I take it as a regular part of my daily diet. Report
Very informative! Thank you! Report
great. Report
Take a probiotic daily. Report
awesome article Report
What the heck??? Probiotics are found in a lot more than just dairy products - do you work for the national dairy association or something?
How about sourdough bread, sauerkraut, miso paste, kimchi...
Anything fermented will have probiotics. Report
MIKE_HARPER
I've been taking probiotics for years now and have really noticed the difference. I feel much healthier now that I did several years ago. I've been reading sits like http://bestprobio
tics.org and a few more to increase my knowledge in this good bacteria. Report
MSSTAMPER35
probiotics are not dangerous. Doctors and big pharm don' want you taking them and finding out that the medication that they make billions of dollars on is just ridiculously over-prescribed and mostly needed due to our completely unhealthy lifestyle. We gorge on processed foods, bleached flours and sugars and spend millions on who knows what that is in fast food and we do that so that doctors can prescribe the medications that there friends in the food industry made us sick for. So of course they want you to think that this stuff is not safe to take with "certain" medications. It's not safe cause it will cause a loss of profit to your doctor and to a whole lot of other people and even if your doctor is a real nice guy who would never think like that he was programmed to in med school without even knowing he was being programmed. I'm sure he is a nice guy he just didn't have a chance. Report
ETHELMERZ
If you take certain meds, check with a doctor before eating this stuff, it can change the way your body uses the meds, or the body won't be able to use the meds properly because you gut is making the med useless..........
..be warned!! Don't just watch the cutesy ads and buy anything and swallow it down, isn't good for everyone at all. Report
Thank you for making my day and making me smile. Just the thought of that little spider sitting down next to Little Miss Muffet with hopes to share her curds and whey....what a visual!!!
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JEANGAIJIN
I would didn't real all the comments, so maybe this was addressed before, but there are many, many other probiotic-contain
ing foods other than yogurt! Fermentation and pickling were worldwide methods of food preservation, and they still work great to produce very healthy, yummy food that's loaded with probiotics. In many cases, the fermentation process also improves the nutrient content of food and makes it more accessible. In addition, the lactic acid produced by the fermentation keeps bad bacteria from growing, so it's a very safe way to prepare food at home. Properly fermented food will keep for months.

Think about sauerkraut, home-made pickles, kombucha, kimchi... the list is very long! I've been doing this for about the last year, making kombucha, kimchi, kefir, home-made sauerkraut at home in my kitchen. My digestion is better and so is my energy level! It's so much cheaper and easier to make this stuff at home than to buy it in the store, and it's of course possible to control exactly what's in it.
For example, a bottle of kombucha (a probiotic fermented tea drink) is $3.99 for a 16-oz bottle; I can make a gallon at home in about 4 days for the cost of one cup of sugar and 5 tea bags!

I urge anyone who's interested to check out resources on the web about this; two good sites are culturedfoodlife.
com and culturesforhealth
.com. There are also tons of YouTube videos out there with recipes and how-to tips. Feel free to message me if you want more info! Report
Walking Guide

About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.
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