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Probiotics ... ever heard of them?

By Tom, Pure Matters

When I started taking personal training sessions, the first thing my trainer asked me during our discussion about diet was if I was taking probiotics. Up to that point, my only real experience with that word was reading it on the label of my yogurt and shrugging it off as another unknown nutrient claim. But when he explained to me the potential benefits of what a probiotic, or “healthy bacteria” supplement, could possibly do -- increase regularity of bowel movements, improve digestive health, and benefit overall immunity -- I wondered why it wasn’t something in my regular rotation of vitamins already. Surely something with such great health benefits would be known, right?

Well, that’s where the trend is going: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “U.S. sales of probiotic supplements totaled nearly $770 million last year, up some 22 percent from the previous year, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm.” The growing trend, as seen in that 22 percent market growth, goes to show that probiotics are becoming a more popular supplement to people’s vitamin arsenals.

Increased sales are also attracting more and more attention from the medical world as well. Scientists and researchers have begun to test more rigorously and with higher standards the benefits and potential downsides certain probiotic bacterias may offer. As WSJ reports, ”Researchers this month presented evidence at a meeting of the American Heart Association showing that two daily doses of a probiotic lowered bad cholesterol by nearly 12 percent and reduced total and saturated cholesterol esters which contribute to the hardening of arteries” and in another study found that “a combination of two probiotics may reduce the symptoms and recovery time for the common cold.” Add those to the growing list of uses for probiotics and we may be looking at a wonder supplement.

Whether you’re a vegetarian, gluten-free, meat lover, or just plain bad eater, digestive health is a major aspect of overall health that shouldn’t be overlooked -- and it often is. As my doctor recently put it, “Everything you eat and drink passes through your digestive system, so it only makes sense to ensure it’s in absolute good health.” At Pure Matters, we’ve even spent some time talking about bowel health in Tracey’s “The Bowel Battle and Koren’s recently published guide on beating “Post-Thanksgiving Bloat.” Read up on all of the ways you can maintain a healthy digestive system and talk to your doctor about adding a probiotic to your supplement use each day. While scientists, doctors, and researchers continue to test all strands of probiotics, early reports are a good sign of what’s to come.



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