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Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics, the “good” bacteria that live in your digestive tract, help your body absorb the nutrients it needs to keep up a resilient immune system.

According to Gloria Tsang, author of “Health Benefits of Probiotics” (HealthCastle.com), studies have found that probiotics may improve nutrient bioavailability for B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and phosphorus, among others.

Other health benefits, according to Tsang, include:

“Pediatric studies have found that certain strains (such as Lactobacillus GG, found in Culturelle capsules) may aid in significantly decreasing the rate of acute diarrhea and rotavirus shedding. Parents also reported a 25% decrease in diaper rash among babies drinking formula containing probiotics.

“Probiotics and active bacteria culture may improve lactose intolerance. The bacterial strain commonly used in yogurt can produce lactase enzymes. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance and children suffering from intestinal infection can usually tolerate yogurt with an active culture.

“Some studies have shown that by regulating intestinal transit time, probiotics improve constipation among the elderly.

“Other studies have shown that probiotics, especially acidophilus, promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the conversion of bile into carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).

“Some studies have found that probiotics may enhance immunity by regulating lymphocytes and antibodies.”

Look for probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt and aged cheese, or take a supplement containing three to five billion CFU (colony forming units) daily, says Gary Huffnagle, author of The Probioticts Revolution (Bantam).

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