Probiotics and fermented foods contain good bacteria.
With the proliferation of antibacterial products, we’ve been taught to see bacteria as the enemy—but not all bacteria are bad. In fact, some bacteria are vital to a healthy digestive system. If you want to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, it’s important to include these “good” bacteria, also called probiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria) that are beneficial to a host organism (you). The most common types of probiotics are lactic acid bacteria, bifidobacteria, yeasts, and bacilli. Probiotics are common in fermented foods, such as yogurt and kefir. You may have noticed that yogurt labels often state that the yogurt contains live active cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus. This is a good thing.
The human digestive system contains a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Probiotics are similar to the “good” bacteria that occur naturally in the human digestive tract. Introducing probiotics into the digestive system helps to keep the “bad” bacteria from proliferating. Probiotics offer a variety of benefits:
Fermented foods are an excellent source of probiotics. These foods contain active bacterial cultures and carry a high nutritional value. To promote a healthy gut, you may want to consider adding some of the following foods to the menu:
If fermented foods aren’t your cup of (kombucha) tea, probiotics also come in supplement form. Look for products that are refrigerated and contain a variety of active bacteria strains. Probiotic supplements come in capsule, powder, and liquid form—and some people believe that the powdered supplements are the most potent and beneficial.
Probiotic supplements are not recommended for everyone. Check with your health care provider to determine whether they are right for you. Probiotics are never a good idea when you are taking antibiotics—think about it, you’ll just be flushing good money down the toilet, as antibiotics are designed to kill all bacteria, good and bad. Instead, wait until you have finished your course of antibiotics—and then consider using a probiotic to help rebuild the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Tags: Nutritional Know-How