MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)  Probiotics are something people might have heard of, but very few actually know a lot about it. Probiotics in foods have become very popular because of their health benefits. But what exactly are they and what do they do?

Pilar Gerasimo from Experience Life Magazine taught us all about these living organisms found in things like yogurt, sauerkraut and cheese.

“Probiotics have become a huge market in and of themselves. What they are outside of the marketplace are good bugs. They are good bacteria that help balance our biochemistry,” said Gerasimo.

The standard American diet is really acidic. It’s a lot of sugars, meats, alcohols and not enough fiber, green vegetables and brightly-colored foods. Unfortunately, that sets up an environment where the bad bacteria in our bodies thrives and the good bacteria doesn’t do so well.

“These products all have probiotics in them. Is that naturally occurring or added? In this case, these are all natural. Fermented foods like yogurt, buttermilk, cheese in this case kambucha, which is a great dairy option.  But many of these items, particularly yogurts, are enhanced with probiotics,” Gerasimo said.

Probiotics are delicate, so if they are heated or cooled too much, they die and are ineffective. That can happen when a probiotic is added to a food rather than naturally occurring.

“How often should you be consuming things like this? I think daily, everybody should have some probiotic rich food. It doesn’t have to be the same every day, in fact it’s probably good to vary them,” Gerasimo said.

If your body is out of balance, there are many health issues that can occur. Gerasimo said a lot of them are digestive and can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea and irregularity. There can also be problems with the skin as people can get rashes, acne, yeast infections, itchy ears or an itchy throat.

Pilar says taking a refrigerated probiotic supplement is also a great option. Because if you allow your body to be out of balance for too long, you could suffer even more extreme health conditions.

“In the long term, chronic imbalances in bacteria can lead to auto immune disease and other pretty serious conditions. It’s almost a central part of your whole health and immune system,” Gerasimo said.

If you’re wondering whether or not you are out of balance, look for signs like low energy and fatigue, digestive issues, rashes or acne, even psoriasis or eczema. Stress can also affect your bacteria balance.

What if I can’t get a daily serving? It can be hard especially if you’re lactose intolerant, as they are found in a lot of dairy products. There are supplements you can buy. Just make sure they are the kind that need to be refrigerated.


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