Anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds in a health food store has encountered products that contain probiotics, a type of “good bacteria” that boasts literally dozens of positive effects for overall physical wellbeing.
Even mainstream grocery chains are getting into the probiotic supplement market by offering all sorts of food staples that are enhanced with varying amounts of probiotics. Simply put, probiotics are a type of food that enhances your body’s stomach health.
Why do we need probiotic supplements?
When we take antibiotic drugs, for example, our illness may pass but the side-effect of the drug is to reduce the amount of beneficial bacteria in the stomach. Doctors often tell patients to use probiotics after such a sick spell in order to restore the delicate chemical balance in the body.
Consisting primarily of yeasts and diverse kinds of live bacteria, probiotics work to restore digestive health in numerous ways. Besides the natural probiotics that already exist in the human stomach and digestive tract, food supplements are another source of these vital chemicals.
In decades past, probiotic foods and additives were virtually unknown to the general public. Doctors would sometimes tell patients who had digestive problems to eat particular foods that are rich in probiotics. But until the 1990s, and the attendant health revolution, very few people knew anything about the benefits of probiotics.
Probiotics aid the human digestive system in important ways, including in their role as:
Researchers are still not exactly sure how probiotics help the human body, but they are sure of the positive effects. In essence, probiotics work to mobilize and digest food as it arrives in the stomach. A whole host of disorders and diseases can result when food does not travel at the proper speed through our digestive tracts.
Probiotics act sort of like traffic directors in that process, making sure foodstuffs are properly broken down and moved to the next area of the body for more processing. Picture a network of urban highways without police, speed limits or lane markers and you pretty much get the idea of what a human stomach is like without probiotics. It’s a chaotic mess!
Probiotics to the rescue
It seems that every few weeks we hear of a new way that probiotics work to deliver improved health, and not all the advantages are limited to the digestive system. If you’ve wondered why so many people are taking probiotics, the answer might lie in the following list. Here are some of the medical maladies that probiotics work to alleviate:
When you shop for probiotics, remember to read product labels carefully. Food marketing is sometimes a confusing practice, so keep an eye out for the amount of probiotics that are in the specific foods you buy. “Trace amounts” might not have the same beneficial effect as substantial quantities of probiotics. Yogurt and dairy products are usually good sources, though ingredients and prices vary by brand, so shop carefully.