Good bacteria can really look after your gut, and the buzz around probiotics is down to the “friendly” bacteria that they contain.
Colonising our guts with these friendly fellows is a good idea if you’re looking to improve your digestion, lose weight and boost immunity.
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms that benefit health.
It’s not a case of one size fits all, as there are many types of probiotic. Some are bacteria but there is also a type of yeast that functions in the same way. Some come from supplements and others come food prepared by bacterial fermentation.
Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, fermented food such as pickles, kefir and kimchi.
The most common groups of probiotic include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and different probiotics work for different health conditions.
Some scientists refer to the gut flora as the "forgotten organ", due to its importance of metabolic function.
It also manufactures vitamins, including vitamin K and some of the B vitamins.
Probiotics have been shown to prevent against irritable bowel syndrome, and drivers of ulcers and stomach cancer.
Some other benefits of probiotics include:
Considered safe for most people, as long as you consider carefully the type of probiotic you need, then you may well see the benefits from taking them.
I've read that some probiotic supplements aren't all they seem, as the live bacteria won't get past your stomach acid so there's not much point. I think yogurt and sauerkraut do work though.
This is very useful to know, as I have recently had to take antibiotics. So I will up my intake of these foods, and I would also recommend taking probiotics as a supplement.
it's all very personal - yogurt doesn't agree with my mum at all, but I find it really helps to keep the digestion comfortable. I also have a friend who makes his own sauerkraut, he says all you need is cheap supermarket cabbages, a big bowl, a bit of salt and a few jars. It certainly tastes good.