Friday, February 11, 2011

Probiotics and your health

The immune system cellsImage via Wikipedia
Activia, Probiotics, Chobani. What do all these probiotic containing yogurts do for you and your digestive health? Well, many are claiming renewed digestive and immune system health benefits. Just look at any of the local supermarkets and you will see a long shelf of all of the above and more. But what are probiotics and what do they do for your digestive and immune health? Let's take a look.

What are probiotics?

In our intestines, we have good bacteria present that does things like help us digest our food, promote regularity and absorb vitamins and minerals. They also boost the immune system and inhibit the growth of yeasts and other harmful bacteria. This is referred to as the intestinal microflora. There are many types such as the Bifido bacterium group and the lactobacillus group - the both of which assist in the digestion of lactose, and are known are lactic acid probiotics.

Sometimes, during the course of our lives things get thrown off balance: we may get sick with infections, and other illnesses, stress, etc. These factors affect the delicate balance of things in our intestines and affect the way in which we are absorb nutrients. Nutrients are vital to a strong immune systems

Going to the doctor's office and obtaining an antibiotic is often the course of wisdom since antibiotics are helpful in fighting the bacteria that causes an infection. But we also find that the good bacteria are killed off as well which can cause an overgrowth of the bad bacteria. This compromises our immune systems as well as throws off the intestinal flora. The result can be unpleasant: poor digestion and poor detoxification resulting in gas, constipation, bloating and poor immunity.

It is at these times that it is important to restore the natural balance by taking probiotics. They are found in capsule forms or in a dairy base such as yogurt. After a few days of taking the probiotics, we may find that these are slowly begin to get back on track.

How important are probiotics?

Since probiotics are important in the absorption of minerals and nutrients which strengthens the immune system. They are very important to our health.

Probiotics have an important role in maintaining the natural intestinal flora and help fight ailments such as colon cancer, irritable bowel sydrome, allergies, Crohn disease, eczema and preventing vaginal yeast infections.

How much should we take?

A good probiotic should deliver at least 1 billion of live bacteria into the intestines. The bacterai should also be a mixture of lactobacillus group and of the bifidobacterium group which will aid in the digestion of lactose - milk sugar.


Landauer, Ellen, "Probiotics for healthy digestion"
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