Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Importance of Probiotics

By now, thanks to a host of TV adverts with celebrities bouncing about proclaiming how healthy they feel because they have added a yogurt a day to their diet, we all know that probiotics such as bifidus are good for us. But why? What exactly is it that makes them so good for us? Research suggests that probiotics play an important role in the digestive system and help build our immune. Put simply when your body has a sufficient amount of good bacteria in the digestive tract, your digestive system runs smoothly.

Babies and Probiotics

One of the reasons breastfeeding is considered so good for babies is because the probiotic, bifidus is found in breast milk and therefore helps to strengthen a babies immune system from the start, preventing digestive tract infections because it induces and improves the growth of good intestinal flora. Of course most formulas these days contain bifidus so don't worry if you are formula feeding or switch to formula early, it might be just worth checking that your chosen brand of formula does include it. 

The Effect of Antibiotics

With so many illness and bugs about the moment the importance of probiotics for children and, indeed adults, should not be underestimated especially as a lot of the time illnesses results in the need to take antibiotics which wipe out the naturally occurring good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. This is why doctors and medical professionals often suggest probiotics are taken in some form when a course of antibiotics is prescribed.

Sources of Probiotics

As cynical as I am about the TV adverts, I think it is important to include some probiotics whether it is via our diet through the inclusion of foods which have probiotics naturally occurring or by taking supplements. If you are going down the diet route look for yogurt brands or dairy drinks that contain probiotics and “live active cultures” and to keep them healthy stick to low-sugar brands. It is also important to check the best before dates as probiotic potency is believed to diminish with time. Other sources of probiotics in food include some soy products like soy milk and miso.  As with all supplements if you are planning on giving young children supplements in powder form, tablets etc it might be worth running it by your doctor first.

A yogurt a day - a simple way to add probiotics to your diet
*Disclaimer: This post contains a link contributed by Healthspan. All views and options expressed are my own.

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