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Probiotics: The Friendly Bacteria


Over a trillion bacteria reside in our gut, but don’t be worried!  Contrary to popular belief, many kinds of bacteria are actually beneficial to the human body. These good bacteria, Probiotics, live in the intestines alongside the bad bacteria.  It is believed that if a positive balance of good bacteria is maintained, the bad bacteria are less able to cause disease and irritation. So, how can you control this warring bacterial count?  The answer- probiotics!

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics, also known as the good or friendly bacteria are live, active cultures that help to regulate the digestive system and prevent the influx of harmful bacteria that can lead to various health issues. Although probiotics are not considered an essential component of our everyday dietary needs, it has been proven that these powerful microorganisms may improve our overall gastrointestinal health.

How can our “good bacteria” count decrease?

A number of factors can upset the balance between the levels of good and bad bacteria in the body.  For instance, in an effort to fight off infectious diseases and germs, the use of antibiotics kills both good and bad bacteria.  Also keep in mind that within a few days of consumption, the gut flora reverts back to its original state, so it may be a good idea to keep probiotics in your daily diet.

What health benefits are associated with probiotics? Research suggests probiotics may help keep the immune system healthy by increasing the amount of beneficial gut flora. These good bacteria produce fuels, which are necessary to maintain a healthy colon. Probiotics may also help shorten the duration of diarrhea and reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and some allergies.

Where can I find probiotics?

To reap the full health benefits, make probiotics part of your daily diet.  The most frequently used probiotics in food products include the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria species. Next time you are in the dining hall, grab some yogurt as a probiotic source. For the probiotic adventurous, explore your nearest health food store or supermarket for other great sources including miso paste (not miso soup as the bacteria is killed off with the boiling water used to make the soup) or kefir. Probiotics can also be found in capsulated forms to help keep your digestive system running smoothly.

Support Bacteria, They Are The Only Culture Some People Have!

Revised By: Miranda Schlitt, Reviewed By: Dr. Watford— Dept. of Nutritional Sciences

References:   Probiotics-The Friendly Bacteria with a Host of Benefits. Available at: Accessed on: September 30, 2012.
Oral Probiotics: An Introduction.  Available at: Accessed on: September 30, 2012.

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