Healthy Bacteria

by Lauren on May 11, 2011

A hot topic in the health industry these days are probiotics. I first heard about them a few years ago on a commercial for Activia yogurt. From what I understood from the commercial; probiotics are good for you, and they make your stomach happy (scenes of belly’s dancing are shown throughout the commercial). After studying about probiotics in my nutrition course, I can tell you that this is true, but there’s more to it than that. 

For those that don’t know, probiotics are basically strains of good bacteria that live in our large intestine. We have hundreds of bacterial strains in our bodies, but the 3 most important, and most commonly found in probiotic foods & supplements are:

Lactobacillus acidophilus
Bifidobacterium bifidum
Streptococcus faecium

I know; they’re a mouthful.

They’re important because they help our bodies re-establish intestinal flora or good bacteria, which is often depleted from a poor diet (high in processed sugar & carbs), use of antibiotics and exposure to toxins (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, etc.). Because it’s difficult to eat a perfectly healthy diet all the time, and avoid all toxins; regular use of probiotic foods or supplements are really important for good health because they:

1. Help us digest our food properly (especially milk & dairy products)
2. Improve the overall state of the colon treating diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and candidiasis (an overgrowth of yeast)
3. Enhance mineral absorption
4. Reduce cholesterol because they help break-down fats
5. Improve our immune system
6. Protect the walls of our intestines from chemicals & toxins
7. Improve the liver’s process of detoxification

A few examples of probiotic foods are yogurt, pickled vegetables, tempeh, miso (fermented soybean paste), kefir (type of yogurt), and sauerkraut. Other than yogurt, these food options aren’t always easy to include in your everday diet. And while probiotics can be obtained from yogurt; it usually only includes one or two strains.

If you want to ensure that you’re getting enough of the 3 important bacteria strains; I would recommend going to your local drugstore, and asking the pharmacist to recommend a probiotic supplement.

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