Are you familiar with probiotics? You might have heard of one strain-acidophilus-which is added to some brands of dairy milk. According to the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) joint report, probiotics are “live microorganisms in foods and supplements that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”1 In other words, probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that help to improve the balance of your intestinal microflora.
Probiotics actually have an ancient, multicultural history, as people across the globe have consumed fermented, probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and miso for centuries. Fermentation modifies the original food, enhancing the flavor, texture, and nutrient content, while also helping to preserve it.
Unlike many other cultures, Americans have not traditionally embraced probiotic-rich natural foods. In fact, yogurt is virtually the only mass consumed staple in the U.S. that contains these friendly bacteria. Sadly, the countless sugary yogurt options on grocery shelves captivate the general public more than the 100% natural, unsweetened plain or Greek versions. Unfortunately, since sugar diminishes the healthy intestinal flora probiotics encourage, highly sweetened commercial yogurts largely defeat the purpose.
However, seeking out these friendly bacteria will reward you from a wellness standpoint. Probiotics have been shown to enhance immune function, improve colon health, decrease incidence/duration of intestinal infections, and improve digestion and elimination.2 Clinical studies indicate that probiotics can also minimize diarrhea associated with antibiotics and travel. And these intestinal health allies may be useful in controlling inflammatory diseases, combating allergic diseases, preventing cancer and stimulating the immune system.3 Rather impressive for humble bacteria, no?
If you eat unsweetened plain, natural yogurt daily-or miso soup with every meal, as in Japan-you may be reasonably well protected where probiotics are concerned. However, not only do most Americans fall short on probiotic-enhanced foods, it turns out that-adding insult to injury-common dietary habits like consuming refined sugars, alcohol, and coffee, not to mention antibiotics, vastly diminish healthy intestinal flora.
Many of us have good intentions, but if you’re not ready just yet to overhaul your diet, supplementing these highly beneficial bacteria makes sense. The EnergyFirst Double Strength Probiotic Complex with Acidophilus, which utilizes freeze dried cultures and is shelf stable, is a powerful ally in your wellness.
1 Minerva Pediatr. 2010 Jun;62(3 Suppl 1):105-7
2 J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Mar;108(3):510-21
3 Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Jun;73(6):1152S-1155S