We see probiotics all over the nutritional world now. So many foods, especially yogurts, are offering probiotics and making sure they are on the front label. But you may be wondering what these probiotics are and why they are so important.
We're glad you asked! Here are 3 of the best explanations as to how they help and why we should consider taking them.
- Replace what we kill – We hear about bacteria in the body and automatically think that it is all bad, but we rely on an average of 500 different species in our intestines to digest our foods and process our nutrients. There is so much in our food today that helps kill these bacteria. It has been shown too that even one round of antibiotics can drastically decrease the amount of good bacteria in our body. The top four bacteria to look for are: Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacteria.
- Digestive Health – So now we know we need to replace the bacteria that we kill and we know where it lives. It’s time to see just what they do for us. These bacteria help break down and work through all the foods that we eat. This helps our body to use less energy while breaking down the foods and increases the absorption rate of all the nutrients that we eat. Both the Vitamin B’s and Vitamin K are processing are greatly increased by these bacteria. And don’t forget these are two vitamins that are responsible for giving us energy. When you think about it these bacteria are great energy boosters for us! We use less energy processing food and gain more energy from our foods. Finally all this bacterial helps regulate our digestive system. It is amazing the effect these tiny things have on our bowels. Once everything is in balance there is no more constipation or diarrhea or the bouncing back and forth between the two.
- Infection Prevention – Wait doesn’t bacteria cause infections? The answer is yes and no and to be even more confusing some of the good bacteria start with the name of bad bacteria as well. At first look what came to mind when you read Streptococcus thermophilus? Probably strep throat right? Well believe it or not this is a good bacteria and it does not cause strep throat. It actually helps with lactose intolerance and other irritations of the digestive track. Yeast infections are caused by the lack of good bacteria in our bodies. The yeast grows rapidly in warm moist areas and the bacteria are there to consume it. Lack of these bacteria has also been linked to urinary tract infections, bladder infections and kidney infection.
As you can see these little bugs are very important to our ability to digest, receive energy and stay overall healthy. These bacteria are found in many of the yogurts such as Activia®, Oikos® and Kefir. If you are lactose intolerant don’t worry there are soy and coconut based yogurts and drinks for you too.