Probiotics are friendly microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract and produce beneficial effects on our health. Without a normal amount of these “good bacteria” we can suffer from Candida yeast infections, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, fatigue, eczema, psoriasis and frequent illnesses. A daily supplement of probiotics has been shown to reduce children’s absences from daycare and upper respiratory infections by 17%. For adults and children, the use of antibiotics kills off the good bacteria along with the bad. Therefore, supplementing probiotics can restore the normal health of the GI tract.

There are many types of probiotics and the largest difference is in their origin, which can be from soil, dairy or humans. The ideal scenario would be to supplement with a bacterial strain that can populate or reproduce in the gut rather than pass through like a transient. Most of the research showing the medical benefits of probiotic use were using human strains of bacteria.

Advertisements would lead you to believe that yogurt is the best source of probiotics. I disagree. When yogurt is made, it all contains bacteria, but many brands undergo a heating process to extend shelf-life which kills the bacteria. Yogurt brands containing live bacteria will display “active” or “living” culture labels on the container. The labels of “Yo-Plus” (Yoplait) and “Activia” do not state the number of live organisms in their yogurt. That information, I was told, is proprietary! All of the yogurt brands contain sugar, 2 to 3 teaspoons per 4oz container.

Probiotic supplementation has been documented by medical research to provide significant health benefits for adults and children. The proper strain and dosage is necessary to obtain these benefits. The best source is from a high quality supplement
company that guarantees the live organism potency. The dosage for illness or antibiotic restoration should be 20-25 billion organisms per day and 3-5 billion per day for maintenance. These can be purchased from some doctors and reputable vitamin
stores and are found refrigerated.

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