Contrary to the conventional perception of bacteria in general, studies have strongly shown that lots of different kinds of bacteria are very beneficial to your health and well being. In the past, whenever bacteria were mentioned, the first line of thought would be diarrhea, cold, flu, dysentery, skin infections, and lots of other diseases caused by the harmful bacteria....little did you know that taking some supplements and even eating certain kinds of food containing live bacteria could treat and prevent a whole number of diseases.

What You Should Know About Probiotics:

Probiotics are live bacteria or micro organisms which are beneficial to your digestive system. You may have heard of gut-friendly bacteria, good bacteria, helpful bacteria, or beneficial bacteria. They are just talking about one thing---probiotic. Your body is a host to millions of these beneficial live bacteria. Currently, some studies link your overall health and wellness to your gut-health. If your gut is not healthy, then your general well-being is at risk. It might suffice to say that taking probiotics (both the supplement and foods) is an excellent way to healing your digestive system of some imbalances caused by drugs like antibiotics, contraceptive pills, and other medications that harm your gut-health.

Dietary Sources of Probiotics:

Apart from probiotics supplementation, you can introduce them into your body by drinking unsweetened natural yogurt. Greek yogurt is popularly known to be an excellent source of probiotic. Eat the following foods also to get more probiotics into your system: Pickled vegetables, soft cheeses, Miso soup, kefir, tempeh, fermented cabbage, sauerkraut (cultured vegetable), Kombucha, and Nato(Japanese).

The benefits you could get by ingesting enough Probiotics include:

Boosting your immune system, prevention of urinary tract infections (though more studies are ongoing to establish and solidify some findings), treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS), treatment of skin diseases such as eczema, weight loss, improves digestive health, improves vagina-health, reduces LDL cholesterol.

In cases of ulcer and Crohns disease, more impressive effects were reported for ulcer while the effectiveness in the treatment of Crohns disease is yet to be clarified.

There is also growing evidence linking priobiotics to successful treatment of diarrhea. Results from certain studies reported significant reductions in the severity of antibiotics-associated diarrhea. Two strains of probiotic called Lactobacillus GG, and Lactobacillus Lactae have been proved to be effective in the treatment of diarrhea in children. The variations in success rates reported in different studies are attributable to the strains and dosages used in the studies.
Take note there are different strains of these live bacteria, and your desired benefits will be achieved if you're taking the right strain for your condition.

Future hope for preventing depression?

A randomized controlled trial done in Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition at Leiden University by Steenbergen et al which consisted of forty normal adults to "test the effect of multi species probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood" suggests that probiotics could be used as a preventive measure for depression. The intestine and the brain are deeply connected through the "brain-gut axis", noted the authors.

The forty participants were divided into two groups of twenty each. Twenty were assigned to placebo condition while the remaining half were placed on probiotic supplement for twenty eight days.
It was such an impressive result that clearly showed a great impact of probiotic on cognitive reactivity. Results showed that the participants who were given probiotic powder every night for four weeks had less ruminative thoughts and reactions after a provocative event compared to their usual post reactions to provocative events.

They pointed that the severity of negative thoughts associated with sad mood is a marker if a person will develop clinical depression or not. The Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Bifidobacterium strains are believed to be exceptionally beneficial to mental wellness though more studies are required to solidify the effectiveness of probiotics as a preventive strategy for depression.

In conclusion, don't miss out on health-benefits-of-probiotics by incorporating supplements and more food sources that will deliver these beneficial micro-organism into your system. Note that you have to consistently take your priobiotics for as long as two months to reap all the benefits particularly for high blood pressure, and take the right strain if you're taking it for a particular health condition.

Apart from people suffering from certain kinds of degenerative health conditions, probiotics are generally considered to be safe but just like you and I new health decision should be made without your doctor. Consult your doctor to discuss the safety of taking probiotics.

Author's Bio: 

Clare Obikwere (PhD) is a freelance writer specializing in the health, nutrition, and fitness niche. Her website is:
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