What Are Probiotics?

what are probiotics

We are constantly hearing about ways to eliminate harmful bacteria from our diet and environment. From liquid hand sanitizers to antibiotics, the medical community is on a well-founded mission to eradicate dangerous bacteria and germs.

However, did you know that we need some forms of bacteria to enjoy healthy-functioning bodies?

This type of “good” bacteria is contained in probiotics.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms usually found in the form of “good” bacteria that aid in improving health. They are generally found in foods and dietary supplements. A common food that is known for its rich, probiotic benefits is yogurt.

For babies, breast milk is the supreme probiotic that aids in supporting the immune system. Research has shown that breastfed babies generally have a natural immunity for the first 6 months of life against illnesses such as earaches.

While certain foods provide “good bacteria” in a healthy diet, it is often hard to know how much acidophilus one is receiving in a serving of yogurt, for example. In order to receive the full benefits of probiotics, it is often necessary to add a probiotic supplement to the daily diet.

What Supplement Forms Are Available?

  • powder
  • liquid
  • capsule
  • tablet

What Are Probiotic Food Sources?

  • yogurt that contains live cultures
  • soy products including soy milk, miso, and edamame
  • sauerkraut
  • some forms of chocolate

Scientists who have studied probiotics have determined that the form in which these nutrients are consumed does not really matter.

Benefits appear to be equal among those who take probiotic supplements and those who consume foods containing the nutrients.

Currently, the FDA does not regulate supplements. It’s a good idea to choose a supplement from a well-known company that can provide proof of testing. The label on the packaging should contain information stating how many probiotics are in a single dose as well as the name of the specific probiotic.

Benefits

In 2008, researchers at Yale University released a study about the positive affects of probiotics on the body. The study concluded that there are significant benefits which include:

  • prevents and treats diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics
  • strengthens the immune system of people who suffer from auto
  • immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • reduces the severity of influenza and colds
  • treats vaginal yeast infections
  • treats urinary tract infections
  • prevents and treats childhood eczema

There is also proof that probiotics can aid in weight-loss and in the treatment of Crohn’s Disease. Studies are still underway to determine what key components found in this substance can help with these conditions.

Scientists also believe that further study needs to be conducted about what are probiotics’ effectiveness in eliminating the abundance of food allergies that are currently diagnosed.

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