There has been a lot of interest in probiotics recently, and I often get questions from people about them: what are they, are they really good for you, and do I use them. This is a brief look at probiotics, what are, how they benefit you, and why I regularly use them, and how you might incorporate them into your diet.
Basically, probiotics are beneficial bacteria (live) that are thought to have a positive effect on several aspects of your health. In simple terms, you can think of these as the bacteria behind many of the fermented foods we eat: yogurt, kefir, and raw sauerkraut. You can also obtain probiotics in pill form, which can be helpful for travel or situations where you may not have access to a natural source.
The beneficial bacteria in probiotics are believed to have many positive effects on one’s health; that’s the reason for the recent and renewed interest in probiotics. Among other things, there seems to be a strong link between consumption of probiotics and a number of health issues including: diarrhea, constipation, overall gut health, gas, indigestion, and an overall boost to the immune system. There are numerous other health benefits attributed to probiotics – enough to warrant your own use and see how you benefit.
I use them for all these reasons – and to help keep the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. Stress, antibiotics, travel, and exposure to pathogens are just some of the things that can throw off the balance of good/bad bacteria in your system. I use them regularly at home and carry some probiotic capsules with me when I travel. I personally like the Enzymatic Therapy brand (Pearls), but there are many other good ones available too. These are readily available online and at many mass market retailers and drugstores.
You can incorporate probiotics into your diet on a daily basis in a number of ways. Yogurt with live cultures and Kefir are two easy ways to get a daily helping of probiotics. I personally drink a cup of Kefir daily for the boost it gives me. There are even yogurts and yogurt drinks with increased levels of beneficial bacteria to help provide a greater boost. You can also use raw sauerkraut or other vegetable based probiotics to your diet (raw because cooking kills of the beneficial bacteria) as a delicious way to add probiotics to your diet.
As with everything, I recommend that you make this a part of a healthy lifestyle – something you do regularly to benefit your healthy. This way you’ll always get the protective benefits and the boost that probiotics can bring.