Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Probiotics – The Good Guys in the Bacteria World

The term “probiotic” has become a buzz word, with more and more ads and commercials touting their benefits. Probiotics are the beneficial organisms that live in our intestinal tract, and there are more than 400 species of these good guys. These beneficial probiotic organisms are essential for promoting digestive health, but they also help other aspects of health. Probiotics can help:
* Enhance bio-availability of nutrients
* Suppress overgrowth of yeast, like candida, in the intestinal tract
* Encourage an acidic environment in the intestines, which inhibits undesirable or harmful bacteria and yeasts
* Promote immunity
* Promote regularity.

Now we can add another potential benefit – helping with blood pressure control. A recent research review caught my attention since I have high blood pressure. This review looked at nine studies and found that people with high blood pressure who consumed probiotics lowered their systolic blood pressure by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.38 mm Hg, compared to a placebo or no treatment. While not dramatic, any reduction in blood pressure by means of natural sources is, to me, beneficial. What these studies found was that consistent daily consumption (for more than 12 weeks) of a standard dose of probiotics (about a cup of yogurt, a cup of kefir, or a probiotic supplement) can help moderately lower blood pressure. And with all the other benefits of consuming probiotics and probiotic foods, what’s the downside to eating yogurt or drinking kefir every day? For those who struggle with milk there are non-dairy options for yogurt and kefir and non-dairy probiotic supplements that provide the same benefits.