We don't know everything about the gut flora and the billions of microorganisms living naturally in our digestive tract. The friendly bacteria help our body break down carcinogens, produce acids that kill harmful bacteria, prevent the germs from entering our bloodstream, and assist in generation of vitamins K and B.
Sometimes our system has an imbalance where bad bacteria outnumber the good. Antibiotics are notorious for accidentally clearing out some of the good bacteria along with the bad. Therefore, it’s recommended that we take probiotic supplements, either in food, powder or capsule format, to restore the good bacteria again. Here’s a rundown of the most common probiotic foods and probiotic products on the market.
Activa probiotic yogurt is one of the most widely accepted probiotic supplements. The idea of bacteria living inside dairy products has been around for years, so Americans aren’t so “creeped out” by it. You can eat one four-ounce yogurt containing bifidobacterium each day for a month for $20. This product claims to reduce gas and bloating, while restoring digestive regularity again. According to Dannon's own research, food took 10-30 hours less to travel from one end of the GI tract to the other. In sales volume, Dannon's Activa is the best probiotic food in the American market.
Kashi Vive Cereal is another one of the probiotic supplements you may try. For $27/month, you’ll get a daily dose of lactobacillus probiotic acidophilus. The cereal’s manufacturers promise “digestive balance and immunity.” Even though this is the first probiotic wellness cereal on the market, skeptics argue that there’s no demonstrated evidence that the probiotic acidophilus strain has these health benefits. The Kashi spokespeople argue that this probiotic survives digestion, which is why they chose to include it, even if survival doesn’t equate with end results.
Probiotic supplements like Culturelle ($20/month) are said to “help promote regularity” and “help reduce bowel and stomach discomfort.” Two studies looked at the lactobacillus gg strain in Finland and Poland. While there was no real evidence that it “promoted regularity,” it did prove to help prevent diarrhea in 70% of children taking antibiotics. However, the results weren’t as encouraging in adults. In 2001, the Mayo Clinic reported no difference between Culturelle Probiotic consuming adults and placebo-taking adults on antibiotics. In the end, probiotic supplements may work for you, or they may just be another convenient advertising ploy.