You may be familiar with the term ‘probiotics’, having seen it promoted as a beneficial part of foods such as yogurt. The food industry promotes probiotics as a must-have component of your daily diet, but what actually are probiotics? Are they important for your general health and well-being? In this article we’ll be finding out all you need to know.
What Are Probiotics?
You may have seen TV commercials, particularly for drinkable yogurts, referring to ‘good bacteria’. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for your health. They are especially important for the function of your digestive system.
Bacteria are often thought of as a bad thing. You only need to look at any cleaning product and it probably says ‘kills over 90% bacteria’. However, there are both good and bad bacteria. If you were to kill over 90% of the bacteria in your body, then you would be doing serious harm to your health.
What Do Probiotics Do?
The role of probiotics is to aid digestion and they do this by helping food move through your gut.
How Can Probiotics Help?
There is still a lot of research underway about the effects of probiotics, but there are some important reasons for making sure probiotics are part of your diet.
Antibiotics – when taking antibiotics to combat a bacterial infection there is no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. All bacteria is targeted as ‘bad’ and the reason for infection. This means that after taking antibiotics consuming probiotics is important to replace the ‘good’ bacteria, which has been destroyed.
Balance – your body needs to have a balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, meaning if you don’t consume foods or supplements that contain probiotics then you will be doing damage to your health
Eczema – there is some evidence to suggest that probiotics can help combat this skin condition, but the evidence should not be taken as fact. The results are still inconclusive and therefore if you suffer from eczema you should seek advice from a medical professional.
What Types of Probitioics Are There?
There are many different types of bacteria referred to as probiotics, and they all have a number of contrasting benefits. There are two main groups of probitioics:
This is probably the most well heard of and common probiotic. It is found in yogurt , and it’s main benefit is helping the digestion of lactose, which is in milk and dairy products.
The main benefit of this type of probiotic is to help with IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome).
What Foods Contain Probiotics?
- Dark Chocolate
- Kombucha Tea
If any of these foods are regularly part of your diet, then you should be consuming enough probiotics. If they are not currently part of your diet then you need to make sure some of them are, for the sake of your gut health.
The one food from that list that possibly sticks out as being the one with the most tasty is ‘dark chocolate’, however you need to be careful with thinking eating a bar of this everyday will be ‘good for your health’. Dark chocolate is ‘healthier’ than normal chocolate, but it is still high in sugar meaning it should be a treat, not a regular part of your diet. Something like yogurt is a great addition, especially as you can now buy yogurts that are low in sugar and fat free.
Take Home Message
If you’re suffering with digestion related problems then the lack of probiotic rich foods in your diet could well be the reason. In the same way that experimentation is required to build muscle in the gym, you should never take what a supplement, or in this case probiotics, is meant to do as fact. Instead try it, and see if it has any positive effects for your body.