You likely already know about probiotics. They are the ‘friendly bacteria’ you get in yogurt and other foods. And you probably know they are good for you.
But I bet you didn’t know how good they really are.
These are lactic acid bacteria. They include varieties of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces. In ancient cultures they were a natural part of the diet. These cultures ate a good amount of fermented foods. These foods contain many beneficial bacteria. And they support health.
Some probiotics were also originally soil-base. Being closer to the soil, our ancestors got them naturally in their diet. But these days most of us are far removed from the ground where our food is grown.
In the modern world our highly processed foods don’t have these good bacteria. Our ancestors had a big advantage that way.
We don’t naturally get these from food. And that’s a shame because these friendly little guys make a big difference for health.
There are good ways to help supplement this lack. I’ll mention them in a moment. But first take a look at 21 benefits these wonder-workers offer.
Benefits of Probiotics
- Manage Lactose Intolerance. Many people don’t tolerate the sugar in milk (lactose). One of the activities of probiotics is breaking down lactose.
- Prevent Colon Cancer. People who eat larger amounts of fermented dairy products have lower rates of colon cancer.
- Ease Constipation. Tests early in the 1900s found that L. acidophilus was helpful in treating chronic constipation.
- Lower Cholesterol. Animal studies show lower cholesterol when given lactic acid bacteria.
- Aid Weight Loss. Research published in the International Journal of Obesity recently showed people eating three 6-ounce servings of yogurt daily lost 61% more fat. That’s amazing!
- Lower Blood Pressure. Research shows these friendly bacteria reduce blood pressure.
- Improve Immune Function. Clinical trials prove probiotics can reduce the number of respiratory tract infections. They also lower dental cavities in children.
- Prevent Infections. Foods and supplements with these bacteria help treat and prevent many infections. These include acute diarrhea, rotavirus infections in children and travelers’ diarrhea in adults.
- Control H. pylori. They can help treat H. pylori. H. Pylori causes peptic ulcers.
- Stop Antibiotic-associated Diarrhea. Restoring healthy bacteria in the gut helps reverse antibiotic-caused diarrhea.
- Reduce Inflammation. Probiotics reduce inflammatory bowel disease in adults. They also help atopic eczema in children.
- Lower Food Sensitivities. Especially dairy products.
- Improve Mineral Absorption. Lactobacilli may help correct malabsorption of trace minerals.
- Prevent Harmful Bacterial Growth Under Stress. When stressed, our bodies are more susceptible to harmful bacteria. In animal studies, probiotics greatly reduced this tendency.
- Help Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Colitis. 4 different probiotics or probiotic combinations relieve some symptoms of IBS and colitis.
- Produce B-vitamins. Lactobacillus acidophilus generates B-complex vitamins in the body.
- Kill Harmful Bacteria. Lactobacillus acidophilus produces the natural antibiotic, Acidophilin. This inhibits the growth of 11 known disease-causing bacteria.
- Moderate the Effects of Food Poisoning. Lactobacillus lactis is natural antibiotic. It is especially effective against the bacteria Listeria monorytogenes, a cause of severe food poisoning.
- Decrease Leaky Gut. L. brevis lowers gut permeability. This improves intestinal microflora. And it has a positive effect on the immune system.
- Fight Systemic Candida (yeast) Overgrowth. After antibiotics, the friendly bacteria die off. Adding them back supports the body’s efforts to fight this chronic infection.
- Protect against E. coli. Bifidobacteria infantis strongly inhibits the pathogenic bacteria, E. coli.
Where can you get these mighty health boosters?
The obvious source of probiotics is cultured dairy products. These include yogurt and kefir. Assuming you tolerate dairy products, these are good choices.
The downside to getting your probiotics this way is that typically yogurt has only one kind. And since your gut has hundreds of beneficial flora, that may not be enough.
Also, many kinds of cultured dairy have sugar and other sweeteners in them. This isn’t optimal for health.
Probably the best source of a variety of probiotics is one of the available multi-strain products on the market. Brands with multiple strains include iFlora, Flora Probiotic Plus and Pro-Bio 12.
Because probiotics transition through the system, they must be continually replenished. By taking high-quality probiotic supplements daily, you will get ongoing benefits for your health.
All the best to you for your health and happiness,