Most people think of bad things when they hear the word bacteria. However, not all bacteria is bad since there is such a thing as probiotics, which are the good guys in the bacteria world. Probiotic bacteria are living micro organisms which, when ingested, have beneficial effects on the human body.
The health benefits of probiotics are mainly due to the most common form of good or friendly bacteria called Lactobacillus Acidophilus. Lactobacillus is the genus name while Acidophilus is the particular strain of bacteria.
What Are Probiotic Bacteria
Good bacteria readily live and thrive in the intestinal tract and the vagina where they protect against the invasion of and growth of harmful bacteria that can cause infections and disease.
Good bacteria also serves another useful function - it creates lactase which is an enzyme found in the body that makes it possible for lactose or milk sugar to be broken down into simple sugars that the body can digest. The term "lactose intolerant" describes individuals whose bodies do not produce the enzyme lactase and therefore could greatly benefit from taking a probiotic supplement.
Taking a probiotic bacteria supplement is also recommended after taking a supply of antibiotics to get rid of an infection. Not only do antibiotics get rid of the infection causing bacteria but they also kill off some beneficial bacteria as well. Probiotic supplements can help replenish the supply and balance the good and the bad bacteria to prevent another problem from starting.
Probiotic bacteria encourage the immune system to work as well as possible when you are healthy and when you become sick, it can help to relieve a variety of health concerns, everything from colon and liver cancer to indigestion and diarrhea.
Lactobacillus Acidophilus aids in the production of the B vitamins folic acid, niacin and vitamin b6 pyridoxine while the digestive process is taking place. Cholesterol is reduced in the blood when there are plenty of helpful bacteria around. Yeasts such as Candida albicans, that are responsible for vaginal yeast infections in women, are decreased when Probiotic bacteria are plentiful in the body.
Probiotic Bacteria in Food
Probiotic bacteria can be found in yogurt that contains live bacterial cultures (always make sure it states that on the label as some brands have little if any bacterial cultures included), milk that is enriched with Acidophilus (again read the label carefully), miso and tempeh. For those who are not familiar with either miso or tempeh, miso is a fermented bean paste that derives from soybeans while tempeh is a "tender, chunky cake of fermented soybeans" that is a very regular dietary element of Indonesian cooking.
Lactobacillus Acidophilus can also be consumed as a supplement and it can be purchased either in the alternative health food section of a grocery store or at a health food store. Preparations of Lactobacillus Acidophilus consist of liquid or dried cultures of probiotic bacteria that are living.
Most of the time these live cultures are grown in milk but sometimes they are not. The preparations can be purchased as freeze-dried capsules, granules or powders and most of the time they require refrigeration. Before starting to take any form of probiotic bacteria supplement, always talk it over with your doctor first.