Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

Probiotics – how do they work? I have been using one but don’t understand it very well.

Many people have begun looking for ways to include probiotics in their diets to improve their intestinal health. Many others may have been told by the doctor that they should get a probiotic supplement and are now looking to increase the probiotics found in the food they eat.

Our intestines are home to almost one trillion microorganisms that help aid our digestion of the foods that we eat every day. Having an abundance of good bacteria or flora in our intestines helps us to absorb the vitamins and minerals from our food that our bodies need for health. This good gut bacteria also provides support for our immune system and helps to fight any bacteria that is not so friendly.

Different strains of bacteria seem to have different functions so that more than one kind of good bacteria is needed. We can choose foods containing probiotic bacteria such as yogurt, milk, buttermilk, supplements, goat’s milk, soy milk, kefir, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, kimchi, pickles, tempeh and miso soup. The bacteria should contain live active cultures.

Research is helping us to better understand the benefits of probiotics. It can help with recovery after taking prescribed antibiotic therapy which can drain our intestines of necessary good bacteria. Probiotic live cultures can help people who have difficulty digesting lactose (those who are lactose intolerant) so that they can eat enough calcium and vitamin D as well as other essential nutrients ideally found in dairy foods.

Adding sources of probiotics can help our overall health and are good sources of nutrients. As with any food you select, be careful and read labels to find those products that do not have added sugars or ingredients that you might not desire.

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