Yogurt and You

Reprinted from PN December 2012

If you have intestinal troubles, probiotics and digestive enzymes may be beneficial to you.

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You hear them a lot in TV ads, but most people have no idea what the words “probiotics” and “digestive enzymes” really mean.

The basic thing to know is that they’re two things that can help anyone’s diet and could prove to benefit those who struggle from intestinal troubles.

Gut Germs

Probiotics is a fancy term for the bacteria in your gut. (Wait ... what?) Yes, there is a ton of bacteria in your intestines, and it serves an extremely important job.

Through processes like fermentation, they help in breaking down the food you throw into your body. These bacteria keep you healthy and regular by beating up toxin-producing bacteria and aiding the digestive process.

Want a little fun fact? There are more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your body. That’s more than a trillion microorganisms. If you ever have symptoms such as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, inflammation, irritable bowl, or colitis, probiotics could help you.

It’s Alive

The most common probiotic is found in yogurt.

If you look at the type you are buying, you’ll find a section of the container that says which kinds of live cultures are in your food. These are the good-guy bacteria! Don’t be afraid that your yogurt is “alive;” it’s just trying to help!

Another thing to think about concerning probiotics is prebiotics. This is simply food for the probiotics.

The best way to explain how prebiotics work is that it is a non-digestible food/pill that can increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut to improve your health. You can buy prebiotics in pill form, but you’ll also find natural forms of prebiotics such as chicory root and garlic.

Break It Down

Along the same lines as probiotics and prebiotics are digestive enzymes.

This is a little easier to explain. These are additives in the form of the enzymes responsible for breaking down components of your diet. For example, the human body is not technically built to process as much dairy as our diet wants us to eat. The enzyme lactase, responsible for breaking down the dairy sugar lactose, is present on a smaller level in the human body.

Another fun fact! This is why many people are lactose intolerant. In addition, up to 80% of the Asian population is lactose intolerant.

The simple way to fix this is to introduce more enzymes to the body to assist in the metabolism of foods. For me, when I’m having a dairy-crazy day or if my stomach is feeling gassy, I will try a lactase enzyme supplement just to calm things down a bit.

Using probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes can help with stomach pains and digestive irregularity. Try to take advantage of these with your diet.


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