Probiotics are living, friendly bacteria that have health benefits when they are taken in the right amount. These friendly bacteria come in many forms and live in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common of the more than 400 types of these bacteria are L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum probiotics.
L. acidophilus is present in the small intestine, and Bifodobacteria bifidum reside in the large intestine and colon. These two work together to help the body maintain good health and protect the digestive system. When not present in enough numbers, problems such as headaches, sluggishness, digestive upset, and overgrowth of the Candida bacteria can occur.
The Multiple Health Benefits of Probiotics
There are many health benefits of having enough friendly bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. More people are availing themselves of the benefits of taking a daily probiotic to maintain maximum health.
•Enhances the immune system to ward off common illnesses such as colds and flu
•Better digestion of carbohydrates and protein
•Suppresses bad bacteria including constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bad breath
•Strengthens immune system to prevent viral respiratory tract infections
•Reduce occurrences of yeast infections and vaginitis
•Prevents eczema in young children
•Aids with digestion of food by producing beneficial acids
•Helps with lactose intolerance through production of enzymes
•Increases absorbing of calcium and vitamin B in the body
Foods Containing Probiotics
There are many probiotic supplements on the market, but some people may prefer to get their probiotics from foods. Certain foods contain active probiotic cultures.
•Yogurt – most people know that yogurt is a good source of probiotics. All yogurts produced in the United States must contain live cultures of Lactobaccillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermo-philus. Some yogurts contain more live cultures, so read the labels carefully and do not just rely on the front of the yogurt carton. Look for ingredients that say live, active cultures.
•Kefir – this fermented, probiotic beverage can be made from cow or goat milk, but also from plant milks such as soy and rice. This drink contains a mixture of the friendly bacteria along with fermenting and non-lactose fermenting yeasts. Some kefirs can contain up to ten billion probiotics per cup.
•Cultured Dairy Products – other dairy products containing probiotics include buttermilk, a spreadable cheese made from yogurt called Lebne is popular in Middle Eastern cultures, and sweet acidophilus milk.
Who Should Take Probiotics
Most people benefit from the multiple health benefits of probiotics, but anyone who is taking an antibiotic for any reason should supplement with a probiotic. Antibiotics disrupt the balance of flora in the GI tract which can lead to an overabundance of yeast.
Probiotics are best when taken with food two to three times a day. Even young children benefit from probiotics to build an immune system that can ward of illnesses.
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