In the human body, one can find more than 500 types and more than 100 trillion bacteria living throughout the digestive, urinary and genital systems. The predominant bacteria are considered “friendly” and necessary to maintain good health. Friendly bacteria aid in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and fighting off harmful overgrowth of “unfriendly” bacteria. Maintaining a balance is essential to good health but the typical American diet includes many processed foods, resulting in the intake of fewer natural probiotics. Probiotics have been commonly used in other developed countries for decades – added to beverages, foods and through supplements – and now the US seems to be catching on.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms similar to “friendly” bacteria that will benefit its host. The first intentional use of probiotics was to prevent spoilage in food preparation. Probiotics are naturally found in yogurt and cheese, as well as fermented foods, including sauerkraut. Through the demonstrated safety of food preparation, probiotic use has evolved and research is demonstrating the many, many benefits of probiotic intake on health.