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Probiotics That Work For You
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Probiotics That Work For You

Probiotics are microorganisms that are similar to the organisms present in the intestines of the body. Probiotics are the organisms that are good for you and are friendly to your body. The efficacy of probiotics is still being studied with some controversy in certain settings. Alternative medicine is where most of the information of probiotics can be found.

Probiotics come in several forms and are living. Probiotics are found in food such as yogurt made with active cultures, powders, capsules, and tablets. Most probiotics contain relatively innocent bacteria that already are in our bodies.  Most contain some form of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidus, and Saccharomyces boulardii. Some contain the enterococcus species. This last one is one this writer is not so sure about ingesting since enterococcus is the bacteria found in feces and some very dangerous infections.

The additional amounts of probiotics added to our systems help aid digestion and restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. If you have ever been on antibiotics, you know that they can cause diarrhea. The diarrhea is usually a side effect of the antibiotics because the good organisms along with the bad organisms are killed in the intestines.

Alternative medicine touts the use of probiotics to aid in the treatment of symptoms of yeast infections, fungal infections, parasites, and other bacteria. These areas in the use of probiotics continue to be explored and investigated. Probiotics are entering the mainstream of medical care when physicians tell patients to eat yogurt and cultured products when taking antibiotics.

Scientific evidence has shown that probiotics actually do have a protective effect from several conditions; however, the benefit is clouded by reports of improvement that are due to the placebo effect of feeling better when there is no evidence of improvement in symptoms. These conditions are:

1. diarrhea due to rotavirus, a diarrhea causing organism usually affecting children 2. prevention and treatment of genitourinary infections in both males and females 3. treatment of irritable bowel syndrome 4. shortening infections in intestines from a spore producing bacteria called clostridium difficile 5. reduce recurrence of bladder cancer 6. prevention and treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema) in children

Scientists continue to study probiotics and their effects on organisms in the human body. This does not mean that probiotics are completely harmless. In some instances, the same organisms that are used for our benefit in probiotics can cause harm. Always check with your physician before beginning any new treatment regime.

How do you know if your probiotic pills contain active ingredients and not just dead bacteria? There is a very easy method of finding out. Being a homemade yogurt maker, I put one such probiotic to the test. After opening the capsule and placing the powder in the heated milk, it was put to the test to see if it would grow into edible yogurt. Well, active cultures will grow in the proper medium. When testing if probiotics are made from the real thing, make it into yogurt. If the probiotic is dead, the yogurt will not grow and you will have buttermilk 12 hours later. If the probiotic is alive, you will have a nice yogurt with whey floating at the top as in this picture. Whey is the protein left over after the organisms digest the lactose or sugars in the milk. And it is edible since it is made from the probiotic powder and it is quite tasty.  Give it a try if your immune system is normal and healthy, you just may benefit from probiotics.

 


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