Most people know probiotics are great for digestive health, but what does that mean? What are probiotics, anyway? And are there other plusses to adding probiotics to your diet?
Sit back and read on because we’ve got answers!
What Are Probiotics?
Not all bacteria are equal. Probiotics are live bacteria that provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. How much that is can vary based on the probiotic, the benefits you’re looking for, and even the strains of probiotics. There are lots of types of probiotics and different strains, even among the various types.
Most people associate probiotics with yogurt. You can also find it in other sources like Snowville Creamery’s No Lac Jack and No Lac Pepper Jack cheeses. Part of the reason it’s paired with dairy is that many probiotic bacteria use lactic acid as an energy source. Another reason? Dairy can protect probiotic bacteria from high acid levels in the stomach, making sure more of it gets to where you want it - in the intestine. Refrigeration, too, plays a role in stabilizing them. Be wary of your yogurt sources, however. Some companies may pasteurize some yogurts after fermentation, making the probiotic organisms inactive. Snowville Creamery’s yogurt is live and active, not pasteurized after culturing.
Note that each person has a unique gut microbiota. If you plan to use probiotics to manage health conditions or have doubts about consumption, seek advice from your doctor. To benefit from probiotics, it’s advisable to consume them daily as they don’t remain in your digestive system permanently.
Fighting the Good Gut Fight
Good digestion is one of the big reasons many people go for probiotics. When fighting bad bacteria in the gut, probiotics are on your side. For example, eating Lactobacillus strains can decrease unfavorable organisms, such as staphylococci. One of the oldest-known benefits of probiotics is their potential to counteract pathogenic bacteria. Some work better for diarrhea associated with viruses.
Rebuilding after Antibiotics
One of the unfortunate, common side-effects of antibiotics is often diarrhea, which can lead to some patients not finishing their course. This is because antibiotics kill off the good microbiota along with the bad. Some probiotics can reduce the risk of this unpleasant side-effect by as much as 50% because it helps rebuild the natural, positive microbiota in the gut.
Keep on Moving
They can also help move things along. Some probiotics help to normalize transit time of stool and reduce minor digestive discomfort. Since most people don’t get enough dietary fiber (some surveys say over 80% of women) this can be a bonus in bridging that gap.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can be life-altering. Some research shows that probiotics can help with prevention and treatment of IBD. Some could even maintain remission of ulcerative colitis. So far, consuming probiotics hasn’t raised safety concerns for IBD patients, so there’s no danger in trying. Beyond IBD, some studies show gut microbiota may have connections to other chronic conditions, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Research is ongoing on how this may positively affect weight and disease risk, but so far, things look promising.
What many refer to as lactose intolerance is often lactose malabsorption. For some people, the enzyme that helps break down this milk sugar is downregulated. Consuming A2/A2 protein milk may solve your problem, but for those truly sensitive, probiotics can help. Evidence suggests that live bacteria in yogurt can make up for the shortfall by digesting lactose. This can lead to better digestion and reduced symptoms.
Early evidence shows that some vaccines may benefit from certain probiotics. Specifically, vaccines against influenza, cholera, or childhood diseases might be affected. In one study, there were some signs that further risk of infection with influenza virus reduced because of the immune boosting effects.
The immune benefits of probiotics may go farther than just helping vaccines be more effective. Some evidence shows that consuming probiotics can reduce upper respiratory infections and flu-like symptoms. Getting those probiotics daily for preschool children showed a reduction in missed school days because of illness.
The Gut-Brain Axis
Research is just beginning, but there may be benefits to mental health when you consume probiotics. Researchers believe there may be a link between the gut and brain, called the gut-brain axis. It’s possible probiotics may help reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and improve mental outlook.
The Wrap Up
Researchers are still exploring just how helpful probiotics can be throughout the human body. From gut health and preventative health to potentially mental health. Almost everyone can benefit from these helpful bacteria called probiotics. The best practice is to have some every day to keep everything balanced.
And there are lots of yummy ways to include it in your diet! Yogurt is a common way, but Snowville Creamery also offers two melty cheeses that have yogurt cultures, giving you a couple more options. And, as usual, you know it’ll be only A2/A2 protein, making it easier to digest. And Snowville always minimally processes their products without thickeners or unnecessary additives.
Looking for inspiration? Hop on over to our recipe section for some ideas! Also, be sure to check out the recipes found in our recent article specifically for our No Lac Jack and No Lac Pepper Jack cheeses. Find Snowville in stores near you or order our cheeses online to be shipped right to your door!