(OrganicJar) Your body contains billions of bacteria and other microorganisms. The term “probiotics” refers to dietary supplements or foods that contain beneficial, or “good,” bacteria that are similar to those normally found in your body. Although you don’t need probiotics to be healthy, supplementing your diet will greatly enhance your overall health.
These microorganisms provide some of the same health benefits that the bacteria already existing in your body do, such as assisting with digestion and helping protect against harmful bacteria. In addition to supplements, probiotics can be found in such foods as yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso, and some juices and soy drinks. Dannon’s Activia yogurt, for instance, is an example of a probiotic food.
What we were never taught in school was the startling link between our body’s intestinal flora and its’ ability to prevent serious illness and add vital years to our lives. Proper bowel maintenance can help us to enjoy a dramatically higher quality of life as well.
There is a growing public and scientific interest in probiotics. Researchers are studying whether probiotics taken as foods or supplements can help treat or prevent illness. There is encouraging evidence that probiotics help:
- Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Shorten the duration of intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat inflammation following colon surgery (pouchitis)
- Prevent eczema in children
Most researchers believe probiotics can improve general health. A small 2005 study in Sweden, for instance, found that a group of employees who were given the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri missed less work due to respiratory or gastrointestinal illness than did employees who were not given the probiotic.
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