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Top 10 Health Benefits of Probiotics
- Probiotics medical vs. CAM. History of probiotics
- What are probiotics? Top 10 benefits
- Probiotics for children and recent class action lawsuit against Dannon and probiotic yoghurt.
- Marketing or medical
If you have been to the grocery store recently, you will see that the numbers of products on the market that are exclaiming the benefits of probiotics are growing, exponentially. From probiotic yoghurt containers to new studies on probiotics for children, the are everywhere. Probiotics are food or supplements that contain the healthy bacteria that your body needs to function normally. Our bodies are filled with all types of bacteria and microorganisms. We have both good and bad bacterial. Good bacteria can be depleted during certain times in our lives: taking antibiotics, stress and anxiety. As in any alternative therapy, there are two schools of thought. The medical community insists that there needs to be more research, even though there has already been quite a bit of research. The CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) side embraces existing research and results. There are a myriad of different good bacteria, so the question has been comparing the studies on a one-to-one basis. As consumers, we have to examine the information, read the labels and make sure that this isn’t another marketing bandwagon. As consumers, we need to scrutinize exactly what are probiotics and what are the health benefits of probiotics.
Probiotics, which means, “for life” and have been used for centuries in health-promoting foods. The original observation for the positive role of certain bacteria by Russian scientist and Nobel laureate Eli Metchnikoff, who in 1907 suggested that it would be possible to modify the gut flora and to replace harmful microbes by useful microbes. Throughout the 20th century scientists and members of the medical and homeopathic community continued research, finding more beneficial affects of the good bacterial found in the naturally fermenting process of foods.
The integrative approach recommends that intake of probiotics should be through natural sources such as: yogurt, sour cream, pickles, whey and sauerkraut.
The top ten benefits of probiotics appear to be:
1. Studies have found that probiotics may improve nutrient bioavailability for B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and phosphorous; among others.
2. Probiotics for children: Pediatric studies found that certain strains (such as Lactobacillus GG, found in Culturelle capsules) may aid in significantly decreasing the rate of acute diarrhea and rotavirus shedding. Parents also reported a 25 percent decrease in diaper rash among babies drinking formula containing probiotics.
3. Probiotics and active bacteria culture may improve lactose intolerance. The bacterial strain commonly used in yogurt can produce lactase enzymes. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance and children suffering from intestinal infection can usually tolerate yogurt with an active culture. Probiotic yogurt and yogurt products are the latest craze.
4. Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections. These types of infections are usually due
to a severe imbalance of bacteria and rapid growth of the bad bacteria. Historically treated with antibiotics that kill all bacteria; it is thought that introducing the healthy or good bacteria brings the body back to a balanced format.
5. Some studies have showed that by regulating intestinal transit time, probiotics improve constipation among the elderly.
6. Other studies have shown that probiotics, especially acidophilus, promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the conversion of bile into carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
7. Some studies have found that probiotics may enhance immunity by regulating lymphocytes and antibodies.
8. There have been additional studies that have shown probiotics to improve the symptoms and problems of irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
9. Lowering cholesterol is another probiotic benefit. Animal studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a range of LAB to be able to lower serum cholesterol levels. Some, but not all human trials have shown that dairy foods fermented with specific LAB can produce modest reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels in those with normal levels to begin with, however trials in hyperlipidemic subjects are needed
10. Several small clinical trials have shown that probiotics can result in modest reductions in blood pressure.
Something to note: A recent class action lawsuit against Danone’s (or Dannon’s) Activia yogurt sparked discussion about health benefits of probiotics. Most yogurt products contain active cultures anyway, so some people wonder if it’s really worth paying a premium for extra probiotic strains.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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