Probiotics are friendly bacteria that support the intestinal flora. Increasing the amount of healthy bacteria in the digestive system prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. Though probiotics are naturally found in the stomach and bowels, natural sources can also be found in fermented foods, such as yogurt. Consuming probiotics can be important for maintaining a high ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in the intestinal flora. Maintaining this balance can promote good digestion, boost immune function, and increase resistance to infection.
Sources of Probiotics
Probiotics, unlike prebiotics, cannot survive heat from the baking process. For this reason they are not found in baked goods like bread, bagels, and cakes. Instead, probiotics are found in certain functional foods such as yogurt and milk beverages. Here the bacteria can remain “live” and provide significant benefits to the digestive system.
In the case of probiotics, regular consumption is an important factor in taking advantage of the benefits of this food ingredient. Daily servings of probiotics are required for some lactobacilli and bifidobacteria cultures to remain in the gastro-intestinal tract. If probiotics are excluded from the diet, these beneficial cultures disappear almost immediately. At least one serving of probiotic functional foods per day is recommended to maintain the positive effects of probiotics.