Everything you need to know about probiotics

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

Did you know you are covered in bacteria? That’s right: The cells of bacteria in and on your body outnumber your human cells 10 to one.

So it’s no wonder that adding priobiotics—a.k.a. “good bacteria”—to your diet has been shown to benefit your body. Probiotics can stimulate immunity, helping you combat colds and allergies. They can also support healthy digestion by reducing the quantity of bad bacteria in the gut. And some studies have even suggested a link between probiotics and the prevention of urinary tract infections.

And, for those trying to lose weight and look slimmer, probiotics can help, too: Some studies have shown a link between low levels of good gut bacteria and obesity. Plus, probiotics can help reduce belly bloat, which is often caused by a lack of good bacteria in your gut.

So what foods contain probiotics? Fermented dairy foods like yogurt, kefir products and aged cheeses are all sources of this powerful bacteria. You can also get probiotics from non-dairy foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and soy beverages. If these sources of probiotics don’t tempt your taste buds, Nutrisystem’s FreshStart Shake™ mixes, packed with protein and fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer, plus 22 vitamins and minerals, are made with a BC30, a patented probiotic developed by Ganeden to support digestive health and help bust belly bloat.

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Looking for more justification to pump up your probiotic intake? Here are four more reasons these health-boosting bacteria are worth your love:

1. They can keep you out of the bathroom
When you take antibiotics, the balance of bacteria in your gut can get messed up—the antibiotics, of course, kill bacteria. This imbalance can cause diarrhea. But probiotics can bring the balance closer to normal and fix the diarrhea: In fact, a 2012 research review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the reduction in diarrheal symptoms can be as much as 60 percent.

And it’s not just when you’re on antibiotics. Taking probiotics may also help alleviate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome as well.

2. They could give you a healthier mouth
Researchers in Spain used a cocktail of probiotics in a study that found they helped ward off cavities. When subjects drank milk with probiotics over a seven-month period, they saw a decrease in cavities compared to those drinking milk without the probiotics.

And they could help with bad breath, too. In a study from the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology, Japanese scientists found that low doses of a lactobacillus bacteria administered for a month helped lower the levels of sulfur-producing compounds in the mouth—and sulfur smells bad.

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3. They could lower your blood pressure
But here’s the catch: You’ve got to eat them for at least eight weeks. In a study from the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, probiotic consumption for at least eight weeks resulted in a drop of systolic pressure (the top number in your blood pressure) by an average of 3.56, and also helped drop diastolic pressure (the bottom number) in patients whose blood pressure was considered “elevated” at the start of the study.

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4. They can keep your immune system primed to fight infection
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania liken an immune system with probiotics in the gut to a car that is idling—it’s already started and can jump into action quickly. The probiotics may keep your immune system ready to roll when a pathogen enters the body, so you’re able to quickly fight it off.

When taken daily, this could also influence your body’s response to allergies. A small study from the Institute of Food Research found that a daily drink containing probiotics helped to change the body’s response to grass pollen, a common cause of hay fever. When confronted with the pollen, probiotic drinkers produced a significantly reduced amount of a molecule associated with allergy.