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Everyone Is Talking About Probiotics but What Are They?

probiotic-cells

For most people, the mention of probiotics conjures up images of yogurt. But don’t dismiss the microbes as a marketing gimmick or food fad. The latest probiotic research suggests that live-active cultures of these friendly bacteria can help to prevent and treat a wide variety of ailments.

“There is an increasing interest in probiotic interventions,” wrote the authors of one of the most recent studies, a meta-analysis of previous research in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Those researchers found that probiotics were particularly useful against a common gastrointestinal problem: antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). But studies show that probiotics can help with a great deal more — warding off infection and boosting immune systems, as well as helping to improve women’s health and perhaps even fighting obesity.

The word “probiotic” is a compound of two Greek words: “pro,” to signify promotion of and “biotic,” which means life. Their very definition is something that affirms life and health. That’s true even by modern standards: 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.”

That doesn’t mean that all probiotics, or probiotic-containing foods are created equal. So what should you look for? “There is a lot of ‘noise’ in this space as more and more ‘food products’ are coming out with Probiotics,” Dr. Shekhar K. Challa, a gastroenterologist and the author of Probiotics For Dummies tells The Huffington Post. “Unfortunately it is impossible to quantitate the CFU’s of probiotics in most food products.”

CFUs — or colony-forming units — is a microbiological term that describes the density of viable bacteria in a product. In other words, the CFU tells you how rich in probiotics a food actually is — and how much will be available to your body.

Dr. Challa recommends the following unpasteurized probiotic rich foods:

  • Plain unflavored yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi and
  • Kombucha tea.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/…

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