What are probiotics and should you take them? STACK talked with sports dietician Leslie Bonci to learn about probiotics, what they can do for you and where to find them.
Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that live in your digestive tract or in your gut. They help your digestive system run smoothly and ensure that your immune system supports your body. Everyone’s body has bacteria, some good and some bad, but the good bacteria is what leads to a healthy life.
Probiotics can be found in certain foods and in supplements. Normally, fermented foods contain probiotics. If you don’t know whether a food item is fermented, its might have the word “probiotics” on it to let you know that good bacteria was added. Yogurt containers sometimes include “contains live cultures” in the ingredient list. That would be the good bacteria.
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Other fermented foods include sauerkraut, pickles and a fermented dairy drink called kefir. You can also ingest probiotics in pill form, once or twice a day. The benefit of a pill is that it makes it easy to get enough probiotics in your body every day.
The last thing you need to know is that probiotics feed on prebiotics, which are carbohydrates. So make sure your diet contains grains, fruits and vegetables, otherwise probiotics will be useless.