Probiotics are, generally speaking, beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system.
Probiotics offer a large number of benefits, and many doctors refer to them as the root of a healthy body. They are well known for promoting optimal nutrient absorption. They achieve this by preventing overgrowth of other bacteria and fungi, which may ‘steal’ nutrients from your food for their own growth; because unlike other bacteria, probiotics will digest foods and then turn over the beneficial nutrients to your body. This has the added benefit of promoting regularity and healthy GI function.
They are also well known for promoting a healthy immune system. The vast majority of our immune system is in our gut, where it interacts with all the foods we take in on a daily basis. Probiotics will often deal with potentially hazardous substances themselves, or will process the substances in such a way that your body can deal with them more readily.
Additionally, probiotics help your body to maintain a healthy gut lining, which guarantees that nothing will cross from the digestive tract into your body without your immune system letting it do so.
Unfortunately, a large number of people have low levels of probiotics, and higher levels of other bacteria or fungi. This can result from poor diet and chemical exposure, but the most common cause of this is antibiotic use, which can kill your probiotic bacteria population.
Because of the widespread use of antibiotics without subsequent supplementation with fresh probiotics, a great number of people have low levels of beneficial gut bacteria from childhood onwards, and develop digestive problems later in life.
Probiotics are not only found in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee or other such ‘fermented’ foods, but can also be obtained from supplements. These supplements will contain live cells, and so must be kept refrigerated.