From Dr. Oz to Jamie Lee Curtis, there’s been a lot of talk about probiotics. Probiotics are simply different micro organisms, and are most commonly found in yogurt, aged cheese and other dairy products. These micro organisms are what turn milk into yogurt and other products, and they remain live cultures in these products. Different products and production facilities use different strains of organisms, but they are all basically categorized as “good bacteria.” Probiotics are beneficial by increasing the population of microbes in the intestines and possibly inhibiting pathogens and harmful organisms.
There have been many studies into the benefits from probiotics, from the fundamental study of people whose cultural diet included many fermented foods (yogurt, sauerkraut as examples) – these populations were found to have extended life expectancies and a lower incidence of life-threatening diseases like cancer. Of course, many other factors could affect those results, but those studies lead to a further examination of the health benefits of probiotics. Let’s take a look at some of the discoveries about probiotics and better health.
Probiotics help the absorption of nutrients. Certain strains, particularly GanedenBC30, can increase the absorption of muscle-building amino acids from the intestinal tract. Animal tests have shown an increase in calcium and magnesium absorption when probiotics were given regularly. Probiotics are a great addition to your diet plan, especially if you are limiting your intake of food for weight loss, sports training or muscle building – they help your body get the most from everything you eat.
Probiotics boost immunity. Taking in “good bacteria” that help your body increase its nutritional intake, and help attack harmful micro organisms, improves your immune system. Certain bacteria in the intestines also influence the development of aspects of the immune system, such as increasing the numbers of certain T cells. Studies have shown an increase in resistance to infections and colds and flus with the regular use of probiotics, and the most common probiotic microorganisms, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to inhibit the growth of dangerous strains such as E-coli and salmonella. Another study determined that hospital patients that were fed probiotics during their stay were less likely to contract staph and other infections. Pretty good track record!
Probiotics benefit pregnant mothers and their unborn babies. Long term studies on women who took probiotics during their pregnancy revealed the following results: The mother is as much as 18 percent less likely to give birth prematurely, able to drop the pregnancy weight faster, less likely to develop belly fat (which contributes to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and at a 20 percent lower risk of developing gestational diabetes and diabetes after birth. For the baby, there is a 50 percent reduced risk of developing eczema, reduced likelihood to develop asthma, childhood obesity or diabetes, and a lower risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis (where intestinal tissue begins to die).
Probiotics may help prevent cancer. Perhaps the best benefit, probiotics may help prevent the
development of cancer in the body. Seventy to eighty percent of the body’s immune cells are found in the intestinal tract. By boosting the immune system, probiotics help your body naturally fight infections and the development of cancer cells. Probiotics are also helpful in reducing vaginal and urinary infections. When the intestines have plenty of good bacteria, it can easily digest food and expel waste. Without healthy bacteria, toxins and waste that back up in the intestinal tract instead of moving through the colon and out of the body. These toxins then get absorbed back into the body through the bloodstream, causing stress to cells and infections.
For your NEW YEAR, NEW YOU campaign, probiotics are a great addition to your diet. If you can’t eat yogurt or other food sources for probiotics, there are now many supplements available on the market that will give you the benefits of live organisms in a pill or drink supplement. A simple habit that is easy to keep and will help you live a longer and healthier life!