PhotoProbiotics have been getting a lot of attention lately for their ability to aid digestion. They come in a variety of different forms, but a recent study shows that consuming probiotics that exist in particular foods may provide the best benefits.

Probiotics are living bacteria that exist naturally in many foods. Products such as yeast, yogurt, soybeans, and certain soft cheeses all contain these good microbes. Your body naturally produces and contains probiotics as well. They aid your digestive system, and help prevent and treat stomach diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as conditions such as cramping, diarrhea, and gassiness.

Researchers from the University of California at Davis wanted to determine whether probiotic supplements or food-based probiotics were more effective after they were ingested. They gave both forms to mice who had colitis, or inflammation of the colon. After they were ingested, the researchers measured which form was more beneficial to each specimen’s overall health. The specific strain of probiotic that was being investigated was Lactobacillus casei, which is found in many products.

Probiotic dairy products give best benefits

They found that food-based probiotics were especially beneficial for the mice with colitis. In particular, dairy products seemed to boost overall health better than supplements or other probiotic-rich foods. This result may indicate that drinking probiotic milk or other dairy products may give the best overall health benefits to humans as well.

Probiotic research is ongoing, but there is still a lot to discover about these kinds of bacteria. “Remarkably, the question of whether it makes any difference to consume probiotics in dairy products rather than other foods or nutritional supplements has not been systematically or mechanistically investigated,” said Maria Marco, who helped conduct the study.

Finding out just how much probiotics affect health will be a primary point of interest for ongoing research. The full study has been published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, which is a journal produced by the American Society for Microbiology. 

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