Probiotics are living microorganisms that are beneficial to our health, especially to our digestive system. The word “probiotic” comes from the Greek words “pro” (meaning “for”) and “bios” (meaning “life”). Probiotics are often called “good bacteria” because they help keep our gut healthy and in balance.
The Importance of Probiotics
Probiotics have a number of important functions in the body. They help break down food, absorb nutrients, fight harmful bacteria, and boost the immune system. Studies have shown that probiotics can also help with a number of health conditions, including:
- Diarrhea caused by antibiotics
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Urinary tract infections
- Yeast infections
- Vaginal infections
- Acid reflux
- Skin conditions such as eczema
How Probiotics Work
Probiotics work by competing with harmful bacteria in the gut, as well as by producing substances that make the environment less hospitable to those harmful bacteria. Probiotics also help strengthen the intestinal lining, making it harder for harmful substances to leak into the bloodstream.
Probiotics also produce short-chain fatty acids, which are important nutrients for the cells that line the colon. These fatty acids are produced when the probiotics break down dietary fiber.
Probiotics also help boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in the body and by producing substances that help fight harmful bacteria and viruses.
Sources of Probiotics
Probiotics are found in a number of foods, including:
- Soy products
It’s important to note that not all fermented foods contain probiotics. For example, while beer and wine are fermented, they do not contain any live bacteria.
In addition to food sources, probiotics are also available in supplement form. Probiotic supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, and even liquids. The number of probiotics in a supplement is measured in colony-forming units (CFUs). It’s important to choose a supplement with a high CFU count, as this will ensure that you’re getting enough live bacteria to be effective.
Probiotics are important for our health and can have a number of positive effects on our body, especially our digestive system. They can help us break down food, absorb nutrients, fight harmful bacteria, and boost our immune system. Probiotics are found in a variety of foods and are also available in supplement form. If you’re interested in taking a probiotic supplement, be sure to choose one with a high CFU count and to talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.