Our dietary habits have changed significantly over the centuries. While in the past our ancestors would regularly have eaten food that contained significant quantities of live bacteria, with improved hygiene the amount of live bacteria we consume has fallen considerably. At the same time it is widely recognized that having a robust population of ‘healthy‘ bacteria in our gut plays an important role in our overall health and well being. It is not surprising in this context that we have seen an explosion in probiotic foods and probiotics supplements on the market.
More studies are emerging linking probiotics to a range of health benefits and some of the main conclusions are outlined below. However it should be noted that there are sill many unknowns with more studies and longer term clinical trials needed.
- There is good evidence that probiotics play a positive role in both preventing and managing diarrhea, particularly infections diarrhea caused by prolonged antibiotics use.
- Taking probiotics is thought to play a role in reducing symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Probiotics may also assist in the management of irritable bowel syndromes.
- You’ll often see probiotics listed as Candida diet foods. Although more clinical trials are needed, many health professionals believe that a robust population of ‘good bacteria’ in the gut can help in reducing the ability of Candida to overgrow into a yeast infection.
- Individuals who are lactose intolerant have been shown to have improved lactose digestion following a course of probiotics. Lactose intolerance symptoms were also reduced.
- Although there is no evidence yet linking probiotics directly to colon and bowel cancer prevention, early studies indicate that this is an area that warrants closer study.
- Probiotics are thought to reduce the incidence to food hypersensitivity on the gut and may serve to reduce allergic conditions.