For most people, the mention of probiotics conjures up images of yogurt. But don’t dismiss the microbes as a marketing gimmick or food fad. The latest probiotic research suggests that live-active cultures of these friendly bacteria can help to prevent and treat a wide variety of ailments.
“There is an increasing interest in probiotic interventions,” wrote the authors of one of the most recent studies, a meta-analysis of previous research in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Those researchers found that probiotics were particularly useful against a common gastrointestinal problem: antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). But studies show that probiotics can help with a great deal more — warding off infection and boosting immune systems, as well as helping to improve women’s health and perhaps even fighting obesity.
The word “probiotic” is a compound of two Greek words: “pro,” to signify promotion of and “biotic,” which means life. Their very definition is something that affirms life and health. That’s true even by modern standards: the World Health Organization defines a probiotic as any living microorganism that has a health benefit when ingested. Similarly, the USDA defines a probiotic as “any viable microbial dietary supplement that beneficially affects the host.
The bacteria in your gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, are sometimes referred to as the “forgotten organ.”
These gut bugs are incredibly important for all sorts of health-related aspects. A disruption in the gut bacteria is linked to some of the world’s most serious chronic diseases, including obesity.
- Plain unflavored yogurt
- Kombucha tea