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Probiotics - Friendly Bacteria That Keep You Healthy
Most of us think of bacteria as the bad guys causing disease and illness. However, certain types of bacteria help keep us healthy. Probiotics, "the good guys," are health-promoting, friendly bacteria with many potential benefits.
How probiotics help us
Where do I find probiotics?
In the United States, dairy products are the primary food source of these health-promoting bacteria. Milk that has probiotic bacteria added to it - such as acidophilus milk or cultured milk such as kefir - and yogurt are the primary sources of probiotics in our food supply.
Some researchers believe that the various nutrients in dairy products somehow "turn on" the beneficial genes in probiotic bacteria. That means dairy foods carry these bacteria straight to your gut, where they can go to work! When you buy yogurt, look for the "live active culture" seal, which indicates that probiotics have been added.
Some forms of probiotics are available in supplement form, which may seem convenient until you stop and ask yourself what you're missing. Foods contain a unique package of naturally occurring nutrients that cannot be duplicated in a single pill. What's more, when you eat, your stomach produces acids that help stabilize the probiotics you've consumed.
How much do I need?
Since it appears that most probiotics don't permanently stay in the intestine, but do their good work as they multiply and pass along through the intestine, it makes good sense to try to include food containing probiotics in your daily diet to optimize their benefits.
Ways to increase probiotics in your diet
For more helpful tips and healthy holiday recipes, visit www.mealsmatter.org. Meals Matter – www.mealsmatter.org – is a non-commercial website supported by Dairy Council of California, staffed by registered dietitians and dedicated to promoting healthy food choices for families.
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