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Should I Be Taking Pro-biotics? Yogurt, Miso, Kimchi



You probably have come across bottles of pro-biotic supplements in health care stores and wondered what good it would do you. What exactly are pro-biotics and how does it benefit the human body? Do you need it to stay healthy?

Pro-biotics are the “good’ bacteria that we usually hear about, live microorganisms that are similar to the good flora that is found in the human digestive tract. It is usually classified as a complementary and alternative medicine, meaning it is not traditionally used in the medical field, but has been shown to yield some benefit. It is usually used to promote general health and to treat some illnesses.

Pro-biotics should not be confused with pre-biotics, although the two are related. Pre-biotics are non digestible food ingredients that help probiotics thrive, while pro-biotics are the microorganisms themselves. Pro-biotics are available in the supplement form such as in pills, but they are naturally available too in many food products. The most common pro-biotics include yogurt (with labels that specifically say with live microorganisms or culture), miso (fermented bean paste) and kimchi (korean pickled vegetables, usually cabbage). These three foods are usually listed under many lists of superfoods or foods that yield the most benefits to the human body.

The results from medical studies have been promising, but there needs to be more tests done before conclusive evidence can be gathered regarding the actual benefits (and risks) of taking pro-biotics. It has been shown to help prevent and treat diarrhea, upset stomach, other gastrointestinal problems, lactose intolerance, vaginal yeast in women, urinary tract infection, bladder cancer, eczema in children, as well as the severity of flu. In one study, employees who were given daily doses of pro-biotics were also shown to need fewer sick days from gastrointestinal and respiratory conditions compared to those who were not.

Pro-biotics however, are not necessary to keep our bodies healthy. We have naturally occurring good bacteria in our bodies that are proven to boost our immune system and aid in numerous other bodily processes. Supplements do just as the name suggests—supplement our already existing supply of good bacteria.

If you are not sure about the benefits of pro-biotics and are wary of taking the pills every day, you can just hit your local grocer for common yogurt or soy products. Not only will this supplement you with a healthy amount of probiotics, they also contain healthy amounts of calcium and other essential vitamins. Snack on it, or use it for cooking. You can also visit your local Japanese and Korean stores or restaurants and ask for miso products or kimchi based products. These fermented food products are added to tasty dishes such as ramen, broths, salad and other dishes.