What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts found naturally in foods and our gut. They are described as being 'good' or 'healthy' because they keep your gut healthy.
There are many different types of bacteria which fall can be classified as probiotics. The two most common ones are:
Lactobacillus (Acidophillius) - This is the most common probiotic and is found in the stomach and intestines You’ll find it in yogurt and other fermented foods (see below), as well in the form of health supplements. Different strains can help with diarrhoea and may help with people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk. (1,3)
Bifidobacterium - You can also find it in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions. (1)
What are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?
The Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin reviewed the scientific literature in 2004 and 2005 and found that the evidence of the effectiveness of probiotics was strongest for helping those with diarrhoea caused by antibiotics or with flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease." (2)
Probiotic supplements can help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut and can help move food along the gut. Conditions they are often used to treat include: Irritable bowel syndrome, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Infectious diarrhoea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites) and Antibiotic-related diarrhoea.
There is also some research to show they help with problems in other parts of your body. For example, some people say they have helped with: Skin conditions, like eczema, Urinary and vaginal health, Preventing allergies and colds and Oral health (1).
If you are considering taking a probiotic supplement to help treat a condition, please speak to your pharmacist or doctor beforehand.
For me personally, I reached for a probiotic supplement when recovering from sickness and diarrhoea (in recent years this has included a bout of Norovirus and food poisoning) and after I've taken a course of antibiotics for an ear infection. I find this, combined with plenty of water helps my stomach settle and reduces any bloating.
Where can I get them from?
The most common food associated with probiotics is natural yogurt, but there are many other fermented foods you can find it it. For example: Sauerkraut, Kefir, Kimchi, green pickles spirulina, chorella, Miso soup and kombucha tea. Dark chocolate is also a good source (as if we needed another reason to eat chocolate!).(4) There's also a large range of probiotic yogurt drinks in the supermarkets, but I wouldn't personally recommend these as they tend to be full of sugar!
For anyone who doesn't eat diary and doesn't fancy any of the foods in the above list (in fairness, the only one I would want to eat from that list is dark chocolate!) you can find probiotic supplements in health stores and online, such as Nutrizing's Acidophilus (available on Amazon and direct from the Nutrizing website, £13.95 for 120 capsules).
Best stock up ready for flu season!
*Disclosure: this post was sponsored by Nutrizing. As always, research and opinions are my own.