10 Facts You Should Know About Probiotics

June 16, 2009

1. Probiotics have been around for over 100 years.  Most of us have only recently become familiar EliMwith the term, but, the very first concept of “friendly bacteria” was proposed in 1907 by researcher, Eli Metchnikoff.

2. Probiotics literally means FOR LIFE (Pro= For; Biotic= Life).  Probiotics are beneficial cultures that can promote health and prevent disease when consumed in adequate amounts.

GI tract3. Probiotics help to maintain and restore balance of our digestive tract.  Our digestive tract contains over 100 trillion bacteria- some beneficial, some neutral, and some harmful. Several factors can cause an imbalanced digestive tract- A poor diet, stress, antibiotics, alcohol and tobacco, and aging.  By adding more probiotics, the balance of beneficial bacteria is greater than the harmful bacteria.

4.  Probiotics have many potential health benefits.  Although probiotics are most commonly associated with maintaining good digestive health and enhancing our immune system, there have also been some studies which have shown possibilities of some probiotics to prevent certain forms of cancer, reduce cholesterol levels, and even prevent kidney stones.

5. Probiotics are not all equal.  When choosing a probiotic,  it is important to identify the genus, species, and strain name.  For example, Lactobacillius (genus) casei (species) shirota (strain). Even cultures with the same genus and species name, but, different strain names have different effects.

6. Probiotics count in numbers. Most probiotics have been studied to have effects with at least 5 billion bacteria. Make sure to identify the number of viable probiotic cultures contained in each serving of the product and be sure that that is the amount studied to have a health benefit.

7. Probiotics should have published research which support its specific health benefit.  There are many products claiming to be probiotic. Be sure to choose only products that use strains that have been studied to have a health effect.

dairy8. Probiotics are often associated with dairy products. 

9. Probiotics can be included as part of a healthy diet.  Similar to fruits, vegetables and other foods Healthy Dietwhich should be consumed daily for optimal health, probiotics should also be consumed daily to maintain good health.

10. If you have any questions about taking probiotics, contact your doctor or Registered Dietitian.

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