What are probiotics and why are they important?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics contain naturally occurring good bacteria that are present in the digestive tract of healthy human beings and animals.
Adding probiotics, via food or supplements, can help populate the gastrointestinal tract with “good bacteria” in an active state, helping to maintain a healthy intestinal tract. A healthy gastrointestinal tract is an important part of health. In fact, a properly functioning gastrointestinal tract helps the overall immune system. That is why probiotics can help support immune health.
Probiotics are commonly known to be in yogurt, including greek yogurt, and in supplements. More recently, probiotics are in items like yogurt drinks and certain cheeses. Probiotics help populate the gastrointestinal tract with good bacteria and can help support:
- Good digestion
- Microbial balance
The amount of active probiotics varies widely by product. High temperatures, in processing or in storage, often diminish the efficacy of probiotic activity.