When most people think of bacteria, negative images come to mind. The urge to rid the hands, face and internal organs of bacteria is common. While it is true that many forms of bacteria are harmful, there are actually hundreds of bacteria in your intestinal system that work to keep you healthy. These bacteria need to be replenished on a regular basis.
Functions of Healthy Bacteria
Healthy bacteria help to:
- Fight off infection
- Assist with digestive issues
- Control constipation
- Prevent yeast infections
- Prevent diarrhea
- Help with lactose digestion
- Prevent the escalation of harmful bacteria
- Decrease allergic reactions
- Prevent formation of some tumors
Replenishing Healthy Bacteria
It is very important to replenish the healthy bacteria in your system on a regular basis, to protect yourself against a long list of possible health issues. Antibiotics kill off both good and bad bacteria; when you are taking them, it is especially important to supplement with probiotics. Probiotic is the name given to products containing healthy bacteria. They come in food supplements and are added to certain foods. Probiotics help to replace healthy bacteria and keep your immune system strong.
Nutritional experts recommend that you get a daily dose of probiotics. While food supplements are useful, it is better to get them through food. Dairy products such as yogurt and milk often have probiotics. You can be sure that you are choosing the right products if the ingredients list acidophilus or if the product is labeled with “live cultures” or “active cultures.”
Probiotics need to be alive when they get to your intestines. Taking them in foods ensures that this happens. If you choose to take probiotics in supplement form, be sure to take them with food, or as directed.
Food Sources of Healthy Bacteria
Most foods do not naturally contain bacteria in them. However, there are a few examples in addition to yogurt and milk with live active cultures that may contain probiotics. An Asian form of sauerkraut is called kim chee. If live bacteria are present in this food, manufacturers may indicate that on the packaging. Another example of a food with potentially healthy bacteria is Miso. You have very likely eaten or heard of Miso soup, which is commonly served in Japanese restaurants. Miso is a paste made from soybeans. Depending on how it is prepared, it may be a source of healthy bacteria. Other foods that may contain healthy bacteria are artichokes, onions, leeks and asparagus.
The average person will not have a problem taking probiotics. However, people who are struggling with a serious disease or with an impaired immune system should check with their doctors before adding daily probiotic supplements.
A little bit of extra effort will go a long way to guarantee that you’re getting an adequate amount of healthy bacteria on a daily basis. Healthy bacteria help to protect you from a large number of health issues. Eating foods containing probiotics and/or taking daily supplements will help to prevent illness and keep you healthy.