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February 05, 2017 2 min read

By Nancy Dreyfus

When you think of bacteria, does it conjure up negative thoughts? If so, you’ll be glad to know that not all bacteria are bad for your health.

Probiotics, often referred to as “good bacteria,”occur naturally in the body and are also found in foods and supplements. They can have a positive effect on your gut health, among other benefits. Good food sources of probiotics include miso, sauerkraut, plain yoghurt, kefir, pickles, tempeh, kombucha and kimchi.

Scientists started researching probiotics in the mid-1990s, and there is growing evidence that probiotics not only improve gut health, but also play a role in digestive health, the immune system, skin conditions, women’s health and urinary health.

Benefits of Probiotics

Digestive Health

Probiotics have been shown to help with a number of digestive issues, including irritable bowel syndrome. Even if you don’t have a digestive problem, you can take preventive measures by supplementing with probiotics. The healthy bacteria in probiotics will attach to your digestive tract and crowd out bad bacteria. In addition, probiotics repopulate your gut bacteria and restore health to your digestive tract after taking antibiotics, which destroy both good and bad bacteria.

Immune System

Maintaining good intestinal flora from eating probiotic foods helps maintain a healthy immune system. By eating probiotic foods, you can increase the production of lymphocytes in your body. These are markers for your immune system.

Skin Conditions

Although research is still preliminary, results of at least one study showed a decrease in eczema in children whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy.

Women’s Health

Women’s health issues such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can occur if healthy and harmful bacteria are out of balance. Some studies have shown that probiotics can help prevent infection and aid antibiotics in treatment of these health issues.

Urinary Health

Probiotics can support antibiotics taken for urinary infections. Maintaining healthy bacteria in the urinary tract will block bad bacteria from invading the same area on the tract.

Obesity

Although it is still unclear whether probiotics can help reduce obesity, early research shows that women trying to lose abdominal fat after childbirth were helped by the addition of a probiotic capsule containing lactobacillus.

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