You have no doubt heard the term “probiotic” at one time or another and if you thought that their use did not extend beyond helping you when taking antibiotics, think again! Probiotics are actually the “friendly bacteria” which can help us to effectively prevent and treat a whole range of ailments and diseases.
When many of us think of probiotics, we think of yoghurt but probiotics can, in fact, be found in many other foods such as, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha tea and even in capsule form.
Probiotics form a crucial part of a healthy GI (gastrointestinal) tract and assist us in breaking down food and absorbing the nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. It is when we take antibiotics (drugs which are designed to indiscriminately kill any and all bacteria, including healthy flora) that we need additional probiotics the most in order to prevent diarrhea and other GI distress. In this case, taking probiotics helps to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria.
Probiotics also help with urinary health, especially with those of us who suffer from frequent urinary infections. They work by helping to prevent the harmful bacteria from invading the urinary tract.
Our immune system also benefits from sufficient intake of probiotics. Much research has been conducted in this regard and studies have shown that individuals who had recently consumed large quantities of a fermented dairy drink (which contained large amounts of probiotics) displayed increased production of from lymphocytes, a marker of immune response.
As crazy as it may seem, including bacteria in your diet is a brilliant idea, as long as they are of the “good” kind! As always, in addition to including these friendly bacteria into your diet, you should note that they will probably only be effective if they are part of a balanced diet.