Did you know that probiotics are good for you?
In a world that predominantly views bacteria as a negative, there is good news. There is beneficial bacteria to be found and they are known as probiotics. In fact, you may already be eating some probiotics on a daily basis which is a very good thing. These guys are a natural and important part of our digestive system. They are the superheroes battling the bad bacteria we all have roaming around inside us.
Not only do probiotics support good digestion, recent research indicates that they may be beneficial in combating a variety of conditions and ailments. Even though they sound like a high school chemistry course, probiotics are known by their scientific names. Those that seem to assist most in maintaining good health are the Lactobacillus strains acidolphus, brevis, casei, plantarum, reuteri and rhamnosus. The Bifidobacteria strains of lactis and bifiform are also believed to promote health.
Some of these names may look a little familiar, especially if you eat yogurt or drink certain varieties of milk or kefir. These food items should list the strains they contain, especially if they advertise that they contain live active cultures. You can also find probiotics in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and, yes, pickles. If you enjoy drinking kombucha you are also treating yourself to a healthy serving of the good bacteria.
The good news is that eating healthy does not have to strain your pocketbook. Although some of the aforementioned products can cost a little bit more than foods that do not contain these cultures, they are by no means ‘expensive’. If you like to be adventurous in the kitchen, you can make all of these probiotic rich foods from scratch at home. Fermenting is simple, easy and usually quite successful. The least desirable method of introducing the friendly bacteria to your system is by purchasing pills and capsules that purport to contain probiotics. Make sure the genus, species and strain are listed.
Following are ten ways that probiotics are believed to promote good health:
- Probiotics may assist with weight loss. The Lactobacillus strains may be the most effective in that they stabilize blood sugar levels which can reduce cravings and fat storage hormones.
- They can help treat infections. Research shows that they may help treat and even prevent upper respiratory and ear infections.
- Good bacteria may help treat ulcers and gastritis. Bifidobacteria bifiform can increase the effectiveness of the therapy used to treat these health problems.
- Probiotics can help reduce the symptoms of depression especially when they are used to treat gastrointestinal inflammation.
- They can increase energy by improving the body’s ability to regulate sugar use.
- These bacteria may help limit nasal congestion and sinusitis. The L.casei strain may be the most effective.
- Because several diseases can be associated with chronic inflammation, probiotics may help protect against this inflammation and subsequent long term effects.
- The L.brevis strain may help control the herpes type 2 virus.
- Probiotics can also improve the functioning of your joints. The best strains have been shown to be L.rhamnosus and L.reuteri.
- One study found that those folks who eat more live cultured probiotics experienced fewer incidents of social anxiety.
In conclusion, grab a yogurt, eat some sauerkraut or munch on a pickle. Your gut will thank you!