Top 10 Health Benefits of Probiotics
The word Probiotic comes from the Greek language and it means “for life.” Today we use it to describe certain growth promoting factors that are brought about by micro-organisms, such as the micro-flora in your intestinal tract and gut. These organisms are in effect good bacteria. They are with us from the moment we are born and are influenced by both our environment, and our diet.
The Most Common Forms of Probiotics
The form of probiotics that most of us are used to seeing, is in the form of probiotic yogurt, which means that the yogurt contains a live culture of bacteria. Most of the yogurts that are sold over the counter in supermarkets today have been pasteurized. The pasteurizing process means that the yogurt has been heated to kill off any bad bacteria. Unfortunately this means that most of the good bacteria also gets destroyed at the same time.
Probiotic yogurt has not been pasteurized, and the most common forms of good bacterium that it contains are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Probiotics
Benefits of Probiotics # 1 – Aids Digestion
As already briefly mentioned in the introduction, your gut contains millions of good bacteria by way of micro-flora. This micro-flora is key to helping you to digestible food. Therefore, when you eat probiotic yoghurt, you’re giving your gut a healthy injection of extra, good bacteria.
Benefits of Probiotics # 2 – Combats Diarrhea in Children
It has been found that certain strains of probiotics (including Lactobacillus) have positive results when used to treat Diarrhea and Gastroenteritis in children, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
Benefits of Probiotics # 3 – Good for Bone Health
Osteoporosis is sometimes known as the “Silent Disease” because the first time that a person knows they have it, is once they have broken a bone after a seemingly innocuous accident. There are many causes of Osteoporosis, but two of the most common are a deficiency of vitamin D and the mineral calcium, both of which are essential for good bone integrity.
Some Probiotic yoghurts are a rich source of vitamin D, and also vitamin B which helps the body to absorb calcium, thus helping to build and maintain healthy bone.
Benefits of Probiotics # 4 – Inhibits Salmonella and E Coli
The Bifidobacterium strain of bacteria have been shown to be able to hinder the growth of Salmonella and E. coli. (source).
Benefits of Probiotics # 5 – Combats Lactose Intolerance
Lactobacillus Casei is a particular strain of good bacteria that is known not only to improved digestion, but to also have the ability to reduce milk or lactose intolerance, “Lactis” (after which this particular strain is named) being the Latin word for milk
Benefits of Probiotics # 6 – Improves Brain Function
Following recent research carried out at UCLA it was found that the brain function among the healthy women who took part in this trial, and who regularly ate probiotic yoghurt, was improved. It appears that some of the contents of yoghurt may have been able to alter the way the human brain responds to its environment.
In a different study reported in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it was reported that probiotic bacteria could have the ability to change the chemistry of the brain and help to treat anxiety and depression related illnesses.
Benefits of Probiotics # 7 – Reduces Levels of LDL Cholesterol
The American Heart Association recently completed some research that revealed the ability of a strain of the Lactobacillus bacteria to reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Benefits of Probiotics # 8 – Re-establish Micro flora after Antibiotic Use
If you are put on a course of antibiotics, one of the side-effects is that it will kill off a lot of the good bacteria in your gut. Once you finish the course (and finish the course you must, to avoid increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance), the best way of replenishing the lost good bacteria is by consuming Probiotic yogurt, fermented foods, kombucha or supplement with a quality probiotic.
Benefits of Probiotics # 9 – Supporting the Immune System
The Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains of bacteria found in probiotic yogurts can help to improve and support the human immune system. In tests carried out on 138 people with H Pylon infections, these bacterium significantly improved the success of drug therapy to combat these infections, which can otherwise lead to the formation of ulcers, and the risk of developing stomach cancer.
Benefits of Probiotics # 10 – Reducing Vaginal Yeast Infections
It appears that probiotic yogurts may be able to discourage vaginal infections that are brought about by the yeast agent Candida. In a recent test, women eating probiotic yogurts reduced their vaginal pH levels from 6 to 4 (the norm being 4 to 4.5), whilst women eating ordinary yogurt experienced no reduction in pH levels.
The same women who experienced a fall in pH levels also reported a reduction in Candida infections.
Probiotic Yogurt is Not the Only Way to Get your Probiotics
Probiotic yogurt is the means by which most people ingest extra good bacteria, it appears to be the most popular. It is however not the only way. You can also purchase OTC probiotic supplements. But let’s not forget that fermented foods, Kombucha, kefir and raw organic dairy all contain wonderful probiotics that give your body that extra boost.
Want to add probiotics but don’t know where to start? No problem this is where I get my supplements as well as starters for Kefir, homemade yogurt and Kombucha.