How probiotics help: They’re your happy little bacteria friends.
At some point in your life, someone has likely told you that you should be taking probiotics. That someone was probably an Activia commercial telling you your womanly bowels are just not up to par unless you’re consuming two plastic cups of sugary sweet yogurty goodness a day.
Aside from the commercials telling you need probiotics, do you know why probiotics are actually useful or do you just buy things because someone tells you to?
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live ‘friendly’ bacteria found in foods and supplements that your digestive tract needs for optimal health and function. There are hundreds of bacterial strains in the human colon, which are determined by your diet, and some of those strains are pretty important to our health.
How Probiotics Promote Health (When Used Regularly)
- They help you digest foods; especially foods like milk and dairy.
- They are useful for improving conditions like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and candidiasis.
- Probiotics help to reduce cholesterol and strengthen your immune system.
- They protect your intestinal wall lining from the damage you’ve done to it due to things like cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone), drugs, and birth control pills
- They help the liver in detoxification and control inflammation
- Probiotics help restore good bacteria to your gut after using antibiotics, which destroy friendly bacteria
How Do You Consume Probiotics?
Yogurt is the best known source of probiotic food. This doesn’t just mean yogurt made from milk. There are also some great yogurts made from coconut milk and almond milk if you’re sensitive to dairy. If you’re not a big fan of yogurt, you can either opt for the other foods that contain probiotics like pickled vegetables, tempeh, miso, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and soy sauce, or take probiotic supplements. You can also add yogurt to a smoothie, blending the taste in fruits and vegetables, or mix yogurt in with cereal or some nuts and seeds.
If you have a healthy diet rich in live foods, fermented foods, and low in refined foods and sugars, you probably have a good balance of healthy bacteria and bad bacteria in your body which will encourage optimal health. If you’re the kind of person who eats a lot of sugar and refined carbs, like white bread or white pasta, which encourage the ‘unfriendly bacteria;’ you likely want to add some probiotic sources into your diet to avoid problems that too much bad bacteria can create, like yeast fungus overgrowth. You don’t want that.
Elson Haas, Buck Levin. Staying Healthy with Nutrition.
New York: TenSpeed Press, 2006. Print.
Danielle Perrault. Ontario. CSNN Publishing, 2013. Print.
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