Probiotics to Prevent and Treat
By now many of us have heard that probiotics prevent and treat a wide variety of health issues.
Our bodies are made up of an estimated 100 trillion bacterial cells, from 500 species. Those are the “good” bacteria that keep us healthy and create the ecosystem that it us. According to research, probiotics have a myriad of benefits in supporting and maintaining our bacteria.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system.
So what do they do?
- When you lose the “good” bacteria in your gut after taking antibiotics, or for some other reason, probiotics can replenish your body.
- Probiotics can also reduce the amount of “bad” bacteria that causes illness, infection, or other problems.
- Probiotics can help keep your system working and healthy by balancing the good and bad bacteria.
But probiotics can do more than support a healthy gut.
A small study presented at a recent AHA scientific meeting found a newly discovered probiotic called Lactobacillus reuteri lowered LDL levels in patients with high cholesterol.
The probiotic reduced molecules known as cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids, which have been tied to dangerous plaque buildup in the arteries.
The website GreenMedInfo links to hundreds of studies, many of which are strain specific, on the potential value of probiotics and cultured foods in the prevention and treatment of a wide range of health conditions (close to 200 diseases and/or disease symptoms).
These studies show probiotics can help with everything from irritable bowel syndrome, to atopic dermatitis, to diarrhea, to allergic rhinitis, to the common cold.
Probiotics are purported to benefit depression, and aid in learning and memory.
Where do you get probiotics?
- Supplements are an easy way to add probiotics to your routine. However, make sure you pick a highly rated brand. Many probiotics have been found to contain far lower number of the little critters than listed on the label. Probiotics are tested before they are jarred or put into pills, and many die after being packaged,
- Fermented veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi are full of naturally occurring live bacteria.
- Live-cultured yogurt can be another good source of probiotics.
- There are even high-end dark chocolates with probiotics!
In general, probiotic foods and supplements are thought to be safe, but it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before changing your health routine.