What Are Probiotics?
If you have ever looked at the ingredients in most yogurt, you may have noticed the phrase, “live and active cultures,” including things like lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus.
Those live cultures are probiotics. Probiotics are live, healthful bacteria, similar to the good bacteria that in the human colon. Our digestive tract is home to billions of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics colonize the intestines with good bacteria, keeping the bad bacteria from spreading.
- Treat urinary tract infections
- Strengthen the immune system
- Promote a healthy digestive system
- Benefit in treating IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Help prevent and treat eczema in children
- Prevent food allergies in children
Ease Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy
Whether it is constipation, diarrhea or heartburn, there is no doubt that expectant mothers deal with intestinal havoc. Probiotics promote healthy gastrointestinal function, aiding in all three of these very common issues we face when we are pregnant.
Probiotics can help boost your baby’s immune system during critical developmental stages in the womb. The same is true after they are born. Remember your newborn has a very fragile immune system. Breastfeeding is one way to promote a strong immune system for your baby. Including probiotics in your diet while nursing will translate to a stronger immune system.
Probiotics play a role in boosting resistance to infection and preventing allergies. In fact, a team from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a study which showed that mothers who took a supplemental probiotic during their pregnancies cut their children’s risk of developing eczema by 40 percent.
Where To Get Your Probiotics
As I mentioned earlier, yogurt is a great way to promote the good bacteria in your gut. Just make sure you read the label to see that it says, “live active cultures,” or that the ingredients lists the specific cultures included, such as:
- S. Thermophilus
- L. Bulgaricus
- L. Acidophilus and Bifidus
Another great source of probiotics is fermented foods, such as kefir (a cultured yogurt drink), sauerkraut, kim chee (fermented cabbage and other vegetables) and miso paste (fermented soybeans, rice or other beans).
You can also try probiotic supplements. We have been taking these Acidophilus Pearls, which delivers over 900% more intact flora to the intestines, and is the only supplement with viable numbers of probiotic bacteria after simulated gastric environment exposure.
We give our daughter Udo’s Choice infant probiotic. It comes as a powder, so you can dissolve some in breast milk in a bottle, in some water (given with a syringe) or in pureed foods or other drinks when your baby gets older. Keep this probiotic refrigerated at all times or the active cultures will lose their effectiveness.