06 Sep 6 Healing Benefits Of Probiotics
For most people, the mention of probiotics conjures up images of yogurt. But don’t dismiss the microbes as a marketing gimmick or food fad. The latest probiotic research suggests that live-active cultures of these friendly bacteria can help to prevent and treat a wide variety of ailments.
“There is an increasing interest in probiotic interventions,” wrote the authors of one of the most recent studies, a meta-analysis of previous research in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Those researchers found that probiotics were particularly useful against a common gastrointestinal problem: antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). But studies show that probiotics can help with a great deal more — warding off infection and boosting immune systems, as well as helping to improve women’s health and perhaps even fighting obesity.
The word “probiotic” is a compound of two Greek words: “pro,” to signify promotion of and “biotic,” which means life. Their very definition is something that affirms life and health. That’s true even by modern standards: the World Health Organization defines a probiotic as any living microorganism that has a health benefit when ingested. Similarly, the USDA defines a probiotic as “any viable microbial dietary supplement that beneficially affects the host.”
That doesn’t mean that all probiotics, or probiotic-containing foods are created equal. So what should you look for? “There is a lot of ‘noise’ in this space as more and more ‘food products’ are coming out with Probiotics,” Dr. Shekhar K. Challa, a gastroenterologist and the author of Probiotics For Dummies tells The Huffington Post. “Unfortunately it is impossible to quantitate the CFU’s of probiotics in most food products.”
CFUs — or colony-forming units — is a microbiological term that describes the density of viable bacteria in a product. In other words, the CFU tells you how rich in probiotics a food actually is — and how much will be available to your body.
Dr. Challa recommends the following unpasteurized probiotic rich foods:
- Plain unflavored yogurt
- Kimchi and
- Kombucha tea.
So what can probiotics help you with?
Each of us has more than 1,000 different types of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts, helping us to break down food and absorb nutrients. But when we take antibiotics — medicine that is designed to kill destructive, illness-causing bacteria — the drugs can also kill the healthy intestinal flora that helps us digest. About 30 percent of the patients who take antibiotics report suffering from diarrhea or some other form of gastrointestinal distress, according to the recent JAMA study on probiotics and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. As a result, doctors commonly prescribe taking probiotics to “repopulate” the digestive tract with healthful bacteria. The study found that it was a viable solution for many.
But probiotics can also help with other types of digestive issues. Research has shown that probiotics can be helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS — a hard-to-treat condition that can have a range of intestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. In one study, female IBS patients experienced some alleviation of symptoms like abdominal pain and irregularity when they were given a supplement of the bacterial strain, Bifidobacterium infantis.
To read full article, visit Food Matters.