Updated: Jul 3
Good thoughts don’t always come to mind when people hear the word “bacteria.” And they definitely don’t think it’s something they want in their guts. However, when it comes to the bacteria being probiotics, there is such a thing as good #bacteria.
Probiotics are active and live creatures — they are usually bacteria, but can also be yeasts. In essence, probiotics are known for maintaining and increasing the positive, good bacteria in the stomach and intestines.
The goal is to have more of the “good” bacteria to help defend the body from the “bad bacteria”, aid in digestion, and increase nutrient absorption. Too much of the bad bacteria can stem from an unbalanced diet, stress, fatigue, and getting older. This could be part of the rationale for getting sick when life gets stressful or overwhelming.
Probiotics are good for stomach health and immunity with their anti-inflammatory characteristics.
With this connection, there is more and more research being done on their role in allergy and auto-immune disorders, as well as gastrointestinal (GI) issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
It is thought that probiotics help form a protective barrier on the stomach’s wall to decrease the chance of onsets and effects from allergens and eczema.
There is also reason to believe probiotics play a role in cholesterol levels and some cancers.
Bad bacteria grow in a neutral pH environment but produce acids that lower the pH of the large #intestine.
This lower pH prevents the metabolism of cholesterol and bile acids, which are both cancer-causing agents.
Probiotics can lower cholesterol levels and risks of cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the bad bacteria.
Marketing tactics have made probiotics commonplace in many products. Many turn to yogurt as a default source of probiotics because of the belief the bacteria added to #milk during fermentation are helpful.
They are also common in fermented foods like #sauerkraut, kefir, and tempeh, which is a great vegetarian meat alternative.
To reach out to those with dairy allergies or intolerances, #probiotics are being found in juices, chocolates, and flours too.
They can also be found as supplements in powders or capsules. And because of the popularity of the buzzword, even products like chewing gums and pizza crusts are promoting themselves as having probiotics or else adding them to their products.
Whichever route you take, make sure to remember that different strains provide different benefits.
While it’s known that they are beneficial to one’s diet, it’s not completely clear which strains of probiotics are the most beneficial for what, and research continues to be done.
Because of this, when shopping, try products that have clinical research behind them.
Also, be mindful of the overall product.
The positive effects these strains may have do not negate the negatives that the overall product may be — a #healthydiet is likely to fare better than an unhealthy treat with added benefits.
It’s important to work with a #dietitian if you will be taking probiotics for an extended time to know which strains are best for you and to get the appropriate dosage.