By Georgia Boley
SHERIDAN — Probiotic is the new buzzword in the health field. Actually, this term is new to some, but ancient to many.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that have taken up house in and on humans since the beginning of time.
Many ancient cultures recognized that fermented foods and foods made with “grains” of bacteria cultures provided an array of health benefits, but it is only until recently that science has begun to explain exactly how these bugs provide an essential role in maintaining human health.
Probiotic means to “promote life” and of the 400 plus different types of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, more than 100 of these types are considered probiotics, providing a specific, often unique, health benefit to you.
Some probiotics help your immune system fully develop and respond optimally. Some help support the gut to maintain normal balance. Many strains aide digestion by helping break food substances, including lactose, down properly. Other health benefits certain probiotics have include helping with symptoms and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and potentially irritable bowel disease (especially ulcerative colitis), reducing gastrointestinal exposure to potential carcinogens (cancer causing substances) and competitively inhibiting the ability of bad bacteria taking up too much real estate in your gut, including clostridium difficile.
Just like our uniqueness on the outside, we are as unique on the inside and that includes the bacteria in and on our bodies. No two humans have the exact same make up of bacteria in their GI tract. In the not so distant future, it is likely we will be able to get a map of our individual bacteria through our health care provider.
This “map” can then help us determine what strains of probiotics might be most helpful in supporting our individual health plan and goals.
Even without knowing your exact bacteria make-up, probiotics can still provide a definite health benefit.