What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are "good" and "helpful" bacteria. These live microorganisms keep your gut healthy and offer a huge health benefit for gastrointestinal problems. Probiotics are also believed to help strengthen immune systems against infection.
Why are Probiotics especially helpful for women?
Probiotics are certainly helpful for digestion; additionally, research shows these beneficial microbes also support immunity, mood, vaginal health and urinary health.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics, a common solution, effectively clear all bacteria - including good bacteria. Probiotics, with their good bacteria, support the re-establishment of healthy flora.
Beneficial flora metabolize and recycle hormones, including estrogen, which can help offset symptoms of menopause, PMS and perimenopause. In this way, they help maintain proper hormonal balance and may protect bone and breast health. There is evidence that some probiotics may have anti-tumor, anticancer effects by helping us metabolize specific food components (like antioxidants and flavonoids) into useable forms. (womentowomen.org)
Even more interesting, lab and animal studies suggest that probiotics may slow the growth of breast cancer cells. (breastcancer.org)
Where can I find Probiotics?
While probiotics are naturally found in your body, they are also available in some foods and supplements. It's easy to find a probiotic option that satisfy both your taste buds and budget.
We especially like:
- Plain, organic kefir
- Plain, organic yogurt (with live and active cultures)
- Kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage)
- Kombucha tea
The best, most natural form of probiotics are in fermented foods. Fortified foods may deliver less since the manufacturing process can kill many of the live cultures. Words like raw, lacto-fermented, or unpasteurized on the packaging indicate the bacteria have been preserved.
The FDA regulates probiotics like foods, not like medications. If you have specific questions on what supplements might be appropriate - ask your doctor.
Please Note: Women with weakened immune systems - such as those undergoing chemotherapy- could be vulnerable to infection. Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid raw and unpasteurized food or beverages. Please consult your physician.