Posts tagged: digestive tract

Baby Boomer Health: Make Friends With Probiotics

If you view bacteria as only being associated with illness and disease, then you may want to take a closer look.  Our bodies actually require certain bacteria to stay healthy.  These “friendly” bacteria, called probiotics, can provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. 

Did you know that about 70% percent of your body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract?  Definitely a good reason to keep that part of the body healthy! Taking drugs such antibiotics, penicillin, steroids and birth control pills, and issues such as yeasts and fungus, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and some cancers can decrease intestinal flora. Research has shown that consuming certain specific probiotics on a regular basis can help strengthen the body’s natural defenses, or improve digestive health, particularly in folks over 60 who have far fewer friendly bacteria in the gut than others. 

I can be friendly

I can be friendly

Probiotics can be taken as supplements or as components of fermented milk, products such as kefir, yogurt and cheeses or fermented vegetable products like sauerkraut. Generally, supplements contain a greater number and variety of bacteria and are therefore more effective than yogurt which is required to only contain two starter cultures.  A recommended dosage for supplements is between one billion and ten billion bacteria per day. More is better!

The bacteria should be stored properly (refrigerated in dark glass) and taken between meals to avoid the acidity of the stomach which can dissolve them. Products should list the number of viable bacteria and carry an expiration date to ensure freshness.  Taking the bacteria as a powder is preferable since they can be damaged when formed into tablets and capsules.  For long-term benefits, bacteria should be taken on a regular basis to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that conditions commonly experienced by aging Baby Boomers —constipation, calcium deficiency and a weakening of the immune system — are all improved by probiotics. So maybe it’s time to start thinking of bacteria as friends rather than foes!

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