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Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate amounts, provide a health benefit to the host.

80% of your immune system is living within your digestive tract and that’s because your stomach is home to over 500 bacterial species. Yes, that’s right. These microorganisms are what activate our digestive system. Because of these reactions, health experts have been looking into their effects on overall weight management.

“Stanford University researchers already use probiotics to help gastric bypass patients loose weight more quickly. Scientists everywhere are excited about the future of probiotics as an adjunct in weight control,” says Registered Dietitian Mary Hartley, RD. Photo Credit here

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Up to 10% of an individual’s daily energy needs can be derived from the byproducts of the good bacteria in your gut. (Dr. Oz) So here’s a breakdown of why probiotics are “hot” in health right now:

Probiotics:

  • Are essential to maintaining the delicate gastrointestinal ecosystem and ensuring that enough friendly bacteria exists to offer health benefits.

  • Are a proven, safe and natural aid for a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses.

  • Can be used to help control diarrhea, whether brought on by illness or as a side effect of antibiotic treatment.

  • Can be helpful in addressing difficult-to-treat illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis.

  • Can be helpful in addressing women’s urogenital health issues. 

  • Some important nutrients made by this bioreactor include several B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, and some short-chain fatty acids

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Research has shown that probiotics:

  • May help in the treatment of allergies, certain types of cancer, and high cholesterol.

  • Can be helpful in addressing lactose intolerance and constipation.

  • Can be helpful in addressing eczema in children.

According to The Huffington Post, “that doesn’t mean that all probiotics, or probiotic-containing foods are created equal.” Technically, the probiotics are measure by CFUs or “colony-forming units.” Unfortunately, they are almost impossible to quantitate the actual numbers.

In a test conducted by The Dr.Oz Show, of the 13 products they tested more than half didn’t contain the amount of probiotics labeled!

Here are some quick recommendations:

  • Choose plain over flavored yogurt.
  • Go for unpasteurized versions of miso, pickles, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha tea.
  • Watch for an asterisk on the packaging. Scamming companies will often claim a certain number of CFUs (Colony Forming Units) on their label, using an asterisk to footnote that this was the number “at the time of manufacture.” Be aware that an amount of probiotics listed “at time of manufacture” doesn’t tell you how many you’ll get when purchased, which can be much lower.