What in the world is a probiotic???

July 8, 2008

Well, it’s actually exactly as it appears….pro (for) biotic (life) = for life.

According to the FAO/WHO, probiotics are “live microorganisims that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. In essence, probiotics are “good” microbes that can enhance human health.

Why do we need them??

There are over literally trillions of bacteria in our digestive system…some “good”, “bad”, and “neutral”. When there is an imbalance of bacteria in our digestive system (due to stress, antibiotics, poor diet, aging, alcohol or tobacco use), our health may become impaired. Probiotics help to maintain our health by contributing good bacteria.

What are the health benefits of probiotics?

Probiotics have been found to improve symptoms of irritable bowel disease, improve tolerance to anti-biotic therapy, reduce inflammation, improve mineral absorption, manage lactose intolerance, enhance immune system, and more.

Keep in mind that not all probiotics have the same effect.

What is most important when choosing a probiotic?

Many food products claim that they have probiotics. However, because there is no legal definition and FDA-approved health claim for probiotics, food companies can claim to have probiotics even without substantial scientific evidence. Products that state “Live active cultures” do not necessarily mean they have any probiotic effect.

Its important when choosing a probiotic, to find out information about genre (e.g. Lactobacillus); species (e.g. Casei); and strain (e.g. Shirota). If it is not listed on the label, you can contact the manufacturer directly and ask. You should also find out what human studies have been conducted on the product or the specific strains in the product and what were the observed benefits in the studies.

Also keep in mind that oftentimes a certain level of the probiotic is needed to be effective. It is important to know that the level contained in the product is adequate to produce an effect and also to know that the product contains the same level of probiotic through the end of shelf life.

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2 Responses to “What in the world is a probiotic???”

  1. Sharon Ann Weidelman Says:

    Rhonda,

    Since the nearest store that sells yakult is over 400 miles away, can I purchase a 30 day at a time suply and it be shiped to me at my office?
    I have a wonderful natural food store here in Springfield called Mama Jeans,(E Republic Road Springfield) if you a retail store to ship to?

    • rnutrition Says:

      Unfortuntately the product cannot be shipped. But there are several other varieties of probiotic foods that you can try instead. For example, most of the regular supermarkets carry DanActive or Activia yogurt. You can also try Kefir. Just take a walk down the dairy aisle and you’ll see many to choose from.
      BUt, keep in mind, there are several factors to consider when choosing a probiotic. Also, not all products have the same effect, so, you may need to experiment with different ones until you find something that works best for you.

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