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Probiotics and Prebiotics
Untitled Document

PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS

Learn What They Are and Why They’re Good for You

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You’ve probably seen the ads on television or in magazines touting the benefits of probiotics added to yogurt and other foods.  And you may have also heard the term prebiotic.  What are these mysterious products, and why are they good for you? 

Basically, everyone has bacteria living in their digestive tracts; some of it can make you sick, but other microbes actually can keep you healthy by keeping bad bacteria and yeast at bay.   Many strains of good probiotic bacteria already exist in your gut, helping you better digest food and improving your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  When you take antibiotics for an infection, the drugs can kill off the good bacteria in your digestive tract, which is why many women get yeast infections when they take antibiotics.  Probiotics and prebiotics can help the beneficial bacteria grow back.

Scientists and doctors are also finding that both probiotics and prebiotics can help prevent diarrhea, vaginal infections (especially yeast infections), irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, and even chronic fatigue syndrome by keeping a healthy balance of good bacteria in your gut.

PROBIOTICS—You Can Find Them in Food

The most beneficial probiotic bacteria are Lactobacillis and Bifidobacterium, found in many brands of yogurt and in other fermented foods such as sauerkraut.  Newer dairy products, including Dannon’s Dan Active and Yoplait’s Yo-Plus yogurt, Yakult dairy drink, and Kraft’s LiveActive cheese, have Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium added to them.  But you can find many other brands of yogurt that have probiotics that occur naturally; look for the words “live active cultures” or Lactobacillus acidophilus on the labels.  Several brands of organic and Greek yogurt contain live bacteria.
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Saurkraut

You can also take probiotic supplements, but again, make sure they contain live active cultures; either Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, and always check with your doctor before taking any new supplement.

PREBIOTICS–Nourishment for the Good Bacteria

Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that provide nourishment for the helpful, probiotics in your digestive tract.  The most common kind of prebiotic is Fructo-oligosacchardies, or carbohydrate fibers, which occur naturally in foods such as leeks, soybeans, onions, garlic and whole grains like oats and wheat.  Prebiotics travel through your digestive system untouched and are available for probiotic bacteria to use as nutrition.   Some prebiotics have been shown to provide health benefits such as improved digestive function and better absorption of minerals.  Yogurt, cereal, bread and other food that advertises added fiber often contain oligosacchardies.  Fructo-oligosaccharides may also be taken as supplements and are found in health food stores.

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Leeks
Soybeans
Garlic
Whole grains

Important Tips On Taking Probiotic and Prebiotic Supplements

Probiotic/Prebiotic Supplement Tip #1

Not all probiotic supplements and prebiotic supplements are the same, and most are not FDA approved.  Do some research to find which brands can back up their health benefits.


Probiotic/Prebiotic Supplement Tip #2

Get a doctor’s okay before taking any supplements if you have an underlying medical condition, a compromised immune system, or are pregnant or nursing.  Children should not take probiotic or prebiotic supplements (although yogurt is perfectly safe).


Probiotic/Prebiotic Supplement Tip #3

Read supplement labels.  Look for specific strains of live bacteria and follow suggested serving sizes. 


Probiotic/Prebiotic Supplement Tip #4

Some probiotic and prebiotic supplements require refrigeration.  Always store your supplements as advised.


Probiotic/Prebiotic Supplement Tip #5

Start taking these supplements slowly as the added fiber can result in gas and bloating in the beginning.

Read More

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Article Written By: Julie Mitchell; Julie is an accomplished writer from San Francisco who loves ballet, yoga, walking, cooking and reading. Her experience as a wife and mother of two lend to her articles and blogs for DivaVillage.com and VillageMAMA.com in the areas of wellness, fitness, beauty, parenting and food.



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