The Power of Probiotics

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You hear the word probiotic a lot these days, especially in yogurt commercials.

But what are they, who needs them, and are they really important for your overall health? After you read this article, don’t be surprised if you have the urge to run down to your grocery store to stock up on yogurt.

Probiotics are very beneficial microorganisms (mostly bacteria) that live in our bodies, mostly in the digestive system. There are around 500 species of bacteria that live in our gut. They help us to digest food, they provide nutrients, and they help to boost our immune system. Up to 10% of the energy used by each of us every day is produced by bacteria. There are also some harmful bacteria that occur naturally in our bodies and probiotics help to keep them at bay. When it comes to your intestinal health, probiotics really are superheroes.

The list of medical conditions or risk factors that it’s believed can be prevented or treated with probiotics grows daily thanks to ongoing research into their health benefits:

 

  • Infectious diarrhea, antibiotic diarrhea, and traveler’s diarrhea
  • Diarrhea in infants
  • LDL or bad cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bacterial infections caused by Listeria
  • Psoriasis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Probiotics are also believed to boost brain function and to alleviate anxiety and depression related disorders.

A number of foods are rich in probiotics, including several that you might not have been aware of:

  • Yogurt (make sure it contains active culture)
  • Aged cheeses
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Kefir
  • Some soy beverages

The already mighty probiotics can be made even more powerful by feeding them prebiotics.

Prebiotics found in foods like bananas, whole grains, honey, garlic, and onions provide nourishment to probiotics and keep them healthy so they are better able to fight off bad bacteria.

Yogurt is delicious but if you prefer to get your probiotics in the form of a supplement or you’d like more information about probiotics or intestinal health in general, visit Medicine Shoppe Crowfoot in Calgary.

Written by Randy Howden. Visit me on

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