"Probiotics are healthy bacteria that actually benefit the host — and in this case that’s you," says Tracy Olgeaty Gensler, M.S., R.D., nutritionist in Chevy Chase, Maryland and author of Probiotic and Prebiotic Recipes for Health . She notes that these friendly flora are critical to your health and have been shown to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and help the body better absorb nutrients from food. Here, we're offering you some of the most common ways to add probiotics to your life, plus the benefits you'll see when you let those little buggers work their magic.
FOR YOUR BODY
In your digestive system, specifically intestines, there are trillions (cue Dr. Evil laugh) of bacteria doing their thing. "The digestive system is very complex — and it consists of 300 to 500 different species of bacteria," says Gensler. The good news: A lot of them are good. The most popular being lactobacillus acidophilus (Latin for acid-loving milk-bacterium), which pretty much hangs out in your hoo-ha as well as digestive tract and is what you typically see in pill form lining the drugstore shelves.
The whole purpose of having probiotics in your system is to counteract their evil counterparts, which often find their way where they don’t belong and are the cause of of tummy troubles like the stomach virus, flu, or a whole slew of so-not-fun illnesses. Probiotics also aid in the breakdown of fiber from food — like fruits, veggies, and whole grains — as well as lactose, from dairy. The result: stellar intestines and a happy belly. You’ve also got some no-good bacteria (a.k.a. yeast) living in your lady parts, so probiotics help keep that in check. Allow too much bad bacteria to collect down there and sure enough you’re buying Monistat on the reg.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
- 1 of 4