Probiotics are the naturally occurring good bacteria in food and in the body. Recently, several important findings have demonstrated that probiotics are an important part of supporting overall health and wellness. Specifically, probiotics are beneficial in supporting immune and digestive health. Several all-natural foods and supplements provide significant amounts of health bacteria.
How Do Probiotics Work?
The majority of probiotics and bacteria found in the body are located in the digestive system; in fact, the digestive system is home to over a trillion live bacteria, originating from 500 different strains. Scientists estimate that the trillions of bacteria in a normal, healthy digestive tract weighs between three and five pounds and serve a number of important functions. These bacteria also outnumber human body cells 10:1.
While probiotics are the good, healthy bacteria, there is also a large population of harmful bacteria in the body; these includes dangerous strains of streptococci, staphylococci and clostridia. Unknown to many, 80% of all immune system functions originate within the digestive tract; probiotics play a key role in immune support. Probiotics, or good bacteria, ensure a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria, preventing these harmful bacteria from multiplying, spreading, and causing serious illness, infection, and disease.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Research continues to demonstrate a tremendous number of health benefits supported by probiotics. A 2011 review of research conducted by researchers at Yale University provided supporting evidence of probiotic benefit in:
Treating and Preventing Antibiotic-Induced Diarrhea
Addressing Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Colitis
Preventing ulcers and intestinal inflammation
Reducing the incidence of bladder and urinary tract infections
Preventing illness and secondary infection caused by C. difficile
Health Bacteria in Food
Probiotics have been a consumed for hundreds, even thousands of years. Today, you will find probiotics in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, and several forms of probiotic supplements. Research has shown that maintaining a 9:1 ratio of good to bad bacteria is appropriate for maintaining digestive and immune health. While the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate probiotics, it is recommended that you consume between 50 million and 1 billion live active cultures of probiotics each day. Although probiotic levels vary, this recommended amount is roughly the amount found in a serving of yogurt or a dose of a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Inadequate amounts of probiotics and good bacteria in the digestive system have been linked to over 170 different health conditions, including obesity, digestive and stomach issues, and secondary infections. Supplementing your diet with a regular, high-quality source of probiotics ensures your digestive and immune systems has support for operating at maximum capacity.