Research indicates that probiotics, healthy strains of bacteria, can help treat a plethora of conditions, from Crohn’s disease to eczema to the common cold. Researchers at Stanford University have even suggested a link between taking probiotic supplements and weight loss, suggesting that the amount of good bacteria found in a person’s stomach affects that person’s average caloric intake. You’ve probably noticed that quite a few people are talking about and taking probiotics, but you may not be sure why or what exactly probiotics are.
What is Probiotic Bacteria?
Probiotics are bacteria that help keep the natural balance of bacteria in your intestines intact. They help prevent the growth of bad bacteria that cause stomach issues and other health problems. When you take antibiotics to treat an infection, some of the good bacteria in your intestines are killed off, which upsets the natural balance of your intestines. Once the natural balance of your intestines is upset, you may suffer from gastrointestinal issues and possible yeast overgrowth, both of which can be quite unpleasant. Taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics helps you restore balance in your stomach. Additionally, taking probiotics regularly is thought to have a number of health benefits, including helping your immune system and digestive system work properly.
Probiotic Bacteria and Your Diet
The most prevalent and arguably most beneficial kind of probiotic is Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is a type of bacteria found in live cultures and in most types of probiotic yogurt. You can add all different kinds of good probiotics, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, into your diet by eating yogurt, kefir, kemchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut regularly. You can also buy probiotic supplements that come in capsule form at health stores and even many supermarkets. Once you start taking probiotics, you may experience some side effects, including an upset stomach and headache. This is usually just your body getting used to the rush of good bacteria, and it will pass.
As you can probably tell, there’s good reason to love probiotics. The jury’s still out on whether or not they cure the common cold, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if these healthy choices did!
- “Are probiotics and prebiotics important for health?” Mayo Clinic
- “Health benefits of taking probiotics,” The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
- “Probiotic bacteria may help in weight loss: study,” Canwest News Service, Vancouver Sun