Health Benefits of Probiotics
By Tyler Linn
Most people hear “probiotics” and they think about some weird “thing” in your stomach that makes you have to use the bathroom.
While this generic thought is true, the latest probiotic research suggests that the live-active cultures of these “things” (which are bacteria, by the way) can help to prevent a wide variety of ailments.
First, let’s define probiotics.
The World Health Organization defines a probiotic as any living microorganism that has a health benefit when ingested. Similarly, the USDA defines a probiotic as “any viable microbial dietary supplement that beneficially affects the host.”
What you should look for in probiotics are CFU’s, or colony-forming units. CFU is a microbiological term that describes the density of viable bacteria in a product. Put simply, it shows how many probiotics are in a piece of food (or supplement) and how many will be available to your body.
You also want to be sure to choose a multi-strain formula, aiming for at least 10 different strains of beneficial bacteria per dose.
So, what about health benefits? Well, there are multiple studies that show different health benefits to using or ingesting probiotics daily.
The first is what researchers at American Medical Association found about how probiotics are particularly useful against a common gastrointestinal problem called antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). Probiotics can also help people with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease and the recurrence of pouchitis (a complication of surgery to treat ulcerative colitis).
Surprisingly, the second main function of healthful bacteria in probiotics is to stimulate immune response. By eating probiotic-rich foods and maintaining good intestinal flora, a person can also help to maintain a healthy immune system. (Remember, roughly 70% of your immune system resides in your gut!)
In 2006, Stanford University researchers found that obese people had different gut bacteria than normal-weighted people – a first indication that gut flora plays a role in overall weight. It’s still unclear how probiotics specifically play a role in weight loss, but as long as the probiotics source is low-calorie and healthful, it is a harmless method to try!
For women, probiotics may also be of use in maintaining urogenital health. Like the intestinal tract, the vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem. The dominant Lactobacilli strains normally make it too acidic for harmful microorganisms to survive. But the system can be thrown out of balance by a number of factors, including antibiotics, spermicides and birth control pills. Probiotic treatment that restores the balance of microflora may be helpful for such common female urogenital problems such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and urinary tract infections.
So, those are a few benefits of using probiotics for potentially enhancing your health and wellness. If you have any questions, be sure to talk with a professional and they can assist you further on trying to kick your gut into shape!
I would also encourage you to look into Fitlife’s most recent product called Biotic Balance Probiotics, which contains 10 super strains of probiotics in each capsule for you to take daily along with 50 billion CFU’s!
Originally from Sacramento, CA, Tyler Linn moved down to San Diego in 2006 to attend college at San Diego State University. Tyler enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, surfing, hiking, meeting new people and traveling all over the world.
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