Health Benefits of Probiotics Affect More than the Stomach.
For most of the twentieth century, antibiotics were hailed as innovative wonder drugs that would save humanity from bacterial diseases and infections. And yet we have learned that the over-administration of antibiotics can itself be dangerous. In the twenty-first century, something equally powerful has been discovered that can affect the human body: probiotics.
Good Bacteria for Children
Probiotics are live bacteria, like lactic acid bacteria or bifidobacteria, that live in our stomachs and can give great health benefits when they are present in sufficient numbers. Probiotics can be obtained through foods like yogurt, buttermilk, and sauerkraut. Though it seems like the health benefits of probiotics should affect mainly our stomachs and digestive tracts, researchers have found that probiotics actually have a much more widespread effect on the body.
The relationship between probiotics and heart disease in children, for example, has recently come to light.
Children Who Receive Antibiotics Need Probiotic Replacement
Probiotics can have a myriad of health benefits, starting in the stomach and radiating outwards. They aid in the digestion of both lactose and carbohydrates, helping the body to use them more effectively. Probiotics also help the body to manufacture B vitamins, improving memory and heart function. They stimulate the immune system to fight off infections, as well as maintaining the yeast balance in the body, preventing other infections. Some doctors have even begun encouraging parents to give their children doses of probiotics when they first experience cold or flu symptoms so that the probiotics can bolster the immune system to fight off the infection before it becomes widespread.
Doctors will also sometimes recommend probiotics after a course of antibiotics, because these powerful drugs often act to kill all bacteria in the body without making distinctions between those causing infections and those helping our bodies run smoothly. Probiotic foods and supplements work to replace these friendly bacteria.
Many Applications for Health Inducing Probiotics
Studies have recently confirmed that probiotics have even more beneficial effects on the body. In 2008, researchers found that probiotics have general anti-inflammatory properties. They help to reduce C-reactive protein levels, which are an indicator of autoimmune diseases. But they are also becoming more recognized as a risk factor for coronary heart disease, so increasing probiotics could help prevent heart disease. The helpful microorganisms can lower cholesterol levels by breaking it down in the gut and preventing it from entering the bloodstream. These tiny organisms can do much more than just regulate the digestive system—they can regulate the body as a whole.
Children at risk of developing heart disease may also benefit from probiotics. Supplementing a healthy diet with sources of probiotics may help prevent heart disease from becoming a problem later. These links between probiotics and decreased heart disease in children are even more evidence that diet and exercise are the best way to bolster the body against infection and diseases.
Growing up with antibiotics, many of us learned that bacteria always caused infection and disease. Probiotics, though, contradict this old-fashioned idea. These bacteria aid the body in digestion, stopping disease and inflammation, and preventing heart disease. They are a powerful tool to help us keep out bodies functioning smoothly.