Your stomach contains trillions of microorganisms. Many of them are beneficial bacteria that provide a number of health advantages and counteract pathogens. Good bacteria help to break down certain foods that your body may have a difficult time digesting, increase your immune function and increase the rate of cell reproduction in the intestinal lining. Probiotics are live bacteria in the form of food or supplements. By adding probiotics to your diet, you can increase the good bacteria in your body.
Feed the good bacteria. Beneficial bacteria eat prebiotics, which are generally found in high-fiber foods such as onions, garlic, bananas and many green vegetables. By contrast, harmful gut bacteria live on sugar and fats in processed foods. To increase good bacteria, choose a diet high in fiber and plant foods.
Add yogurt to your diet daily. All yogurts contain the cultures lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus, which are good bacteria. Some yogurt brands also include additional probiotics, although it is unclear if these extra probiotics can provide further benefits.
Choose a strain of probiotic that is specifically beneficial for your health concerns. If you have a specific health goal, pick the probiotic that will increase the right type of bacteria. For instance, bifidobacterium infantis helps to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. If you just want to promote good bacteria in general, you can choose any strain of probiotics.
Take probiotic supplements to help you increase or maintain good bacteria. You can find probiotic supplements at your health food store or drug store. Select a probiotic supplement with at least 50 million colony-forming units or CFU. Different probiotics are effective at different levels.
Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria along with harmful pathogens. Although antibiotics may be necessary at times, many people take antibiotics when they do not need them. If your doctor prescribes you antibiotics, talk to him about your concerns.
- Consult your physician before you take a probiotic supplement.
- Howard Hughes Medical Institution: What Good Bacteria Do
- Oprah.com: Sick? Overweight? Depressed? Blame it on the Bacteria in Your Belly
- John Hopkins Medicine: The Promise of Probiotic Yogurt
- International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics: Probiotics- A Consumer Guide for Making Smart Choices
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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