100 trillion micro-organism of 500 different species inhabit every normal healthy digestive tract. These micro-organism ( microflora) don’t make you sick. In fact most are helpful as they keep the balance of good and bad micro-organisms population in check.

Probiotics are live culture of micro-organisms which you can eat to maintain optimum health. You can include them into your diet by eating fermented or cultured food such as tempeh, natto, kimchee, fermented milk and fermented vegetables.

You can take probiotics supplements, but make sure the bacteria’s listed on the label are suitable for treating the conditions and they are in the right quantity.

What are the benefits of probiotics?

1) Digestive Health

Good bacteria in the digestive tract help to breakdown food and absorption of nutrients into the body. Not only that, they also help to treat diarrhea that is contracted during traveling.  Research studies have shown that Lactobacillus GG shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children.

Probiotics also help with digestive problems such as Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome ( IBS). Certain probiotics have been found to help remission of Ulcerative Colitis and prevent the relapse of Crohn’s disease.

2) Immunity

A healthy digestive system is the first line of defense against attacks to the body. When the balance of good and bad bacteria is destabilized, the mucous lining in the intestine is susceptible to the invasion of pathogenic bacteria and other agents in the body. Taking probiotics help the digestive system to rebalance the good and bad bacteria.

3) Obesity

New research indicates that bacteria and virus in the gut play an integral role in how the body metabolize and store fat. It also reduce craving for carbohydrate, sugar and alcohol.

A study done by Marko Kalliomaki reported in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition established that early gut microflora can guide weight development through out early childhood. In the study, 25 obese children and 24 normal weight children were given probiotic supplementation. Obese children were found to have higher amount of bad bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus while the normal weight children have high level of good bacteria, bifidobacteria.

4) Maintain Urogenital health

Maintain the ecosystem of micro-organism in the vagina and the urinary tract is the key to urogenital health. Lactobacillus strains of bacteria make the ecosystem acidic by the production of lactic acid. This helps to prevent harmful bacteria and yeast from growing and infecting the systems. This delicate ecosystem is destroyed by taking too much antibiotics, spermicide and birth control pills.

5) Maintain Cardiovascular health

American Heart Association Conference in 2012, Michell L. Jones, MD, PhD , Faculty Medicine McGill University in Montreal reported a study that showed probiotics help to reduce LDL ( bad cholesterol), total cholesterol in patients.

127 adults with high cholesterol, amongst which, half were given Lactobacillus reuteri 200 mg, twice a day. The other half was given a placebo. After 9 weeks, the total cholesterol dropped by 9.1%, LDL dropped by 11.6% and the good cholesterol remained unchanged. Lactobacillus break up the bile salts and reduce cholesterol absorption in the intestine.

6) Prevent Childhood Eczema

When pregnant mothers take probiotics before and after giving birth, while breast-feeding, the babies were found to have less incidence of developing eczema. This is reported in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

7) Prevent Baby Colic

Colicky babies cry a lot. A study done by Savnio F from the Department of Pediatrics, Regina Margherita Children’s Hospital, University of Turin, Italy, found that when 90 breastfed babies were give Lactobacillus reuteri at 60mg everyday for 28 days. The crying time is reduced by 13%.

Many studies have reported probiotics to have positive effects on health. While other studies reported weak findings. Probiotics may not be a miracle cure, they won’t hurt either. When you eat it and it makes you feel better and healthier, then keep it up!

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