Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics provide healthy bacteria to the body. Eating foods filled with probiotics can stave off a variety of digestive ailments in the body. Learn more about the health benefits of probiotics and where you can find them.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are bacteria that support life. You already have bacteria in your body. These good bacteria support a healthy immune system. Ideally, you want the healthy good bacterial to outnumber the bad bacteria to fight infections.

Eating foods that are high in probiotics is a plus especially when you are taking medications. By definition antibiotics are the direct opposite of probiotics. They kill bacteria.

While they are useful for killing the bacteria that cause infections like urinary tract and vaginal yeast, the good bacteria are also decreased at the same time. Probiotics reverse this process to replenish the good bacteria in your system. That is one reason that eating yogurt helps prevent vaginal yeast infections when taking antibiotics at the same time.

Where are Probiotics?

Have you seen those commercials for yogurt that can improve your digestive health? They are all over the television and magazine ads. The live bacteria cultures found in yogurt are one example of probiotics. Bacteria like lactobacillus, in its many strains, are plentiful in yogurt and provides for an increase in intestinal bacteria.

When buying yogurt, look for natural yogurt that contains no added sugars or flavoring. Plain yogurt is the best because it adds the most benefit with the least amount of added calories and sweeteners. Yogurt can be made at home instead of purchased at the grocery store.

Other probiotics can be found in fermented food. Think of pickles, sauerkraut, acidophilus milk, cheese and miso paste (a soybean paste found in Japanese foods). Bacteria are introduced to ferment foods and these bacteria are probiotics. Also try kefir (a milk drink) for increasing the probiotics in your diet.

If none of these appeal to you, try taking probiotic supplements. The exact amount of probiotics needed each day is not well known but even a small amount can protect you from intestinal troubles and prevent certain conditions like diarrhea and yeast infections. Many supplements contain billions of beneficial bacterial cultures in each pill. How many you get from food is unknown but eating probiotic foods are preferable for most people.

Incorporating Probiotics into Your Diet

Eating a cup of yogurt each day with breakfast and as a snack provides calcium and also probiotic bacteria. Regularly eating yogurt, aged cheeses and/or probiotic milk establishes these good bacteria in your system so they are already there when needed. As long as your body tolerates these food choices it can’t hurt to give your digestive system a healthy dose of the good stuff.