by Michael Shahani

Beyond the Hype: The Top 10 Things You Never Knew About Probiotics, MASSAGE Magazine

With 70 percent of your body’s natural defenses found in the gut, there’s understandably much talk today about the benefits of probiotics. There’s also much hype. It’s important to understand the role helpful probiotics play as part of a holistic-health regimen. To further this understanding, below are some noteworthy facts about probiotics.

1. “It’s ALIVE!” [insert appropriate Dr. Frankenstein voice]

• Probiotics work because they are live bacteria that need to thrive in the human gut.

2. Probiotics need TLC (tender loving care)

• Don’t abuse your probiotics. Keep them cool and dry so they will be alive when they get into your body. For best results and for long-term storage, most probiotics need to be kept refrigerated.

3. Fight the good fight

• Probiotics displace and even help kill pathogenic bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.

4. Don’t judge a bacteria by its …

• Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, we need good bacteria to survive. These are called “probiotic” bacteria. The word “probiotic” means “for life.”

5. We’re overrun–but don’t worry, it’s OK

• You have more bacteria in your intestines than there are cells in the rest of your body. The average person has approximately 100 trillion bacteria in their gut, which represents 10 times more than the number of cells in the body.

6. If it quacks like a duck …

• Retail probiotics vary drastically. Some products might not have sufficient numbers of live bacteria in them to make them effective. Also, some products might not be well-cared for, and the number of live bacteria on the label might not be correct. It is important for consumers to look for strains of bacteria that have been researched and have a proven track record of stability and efficacy.

7. Weight–are you kidding?

• The average human has 2 to 4 pounds of bacteria in his body. Within every human being is a flourishing, living colony of both beneficial and pathogenic bacteria. Most of these bacteria reside in the human digestive tract (although some are found elsewhere, like the oral cavity, throat and skin), and perform necessary functions for humans, such as helping break down food.

8. Healthy babies are born with probiotics

• Healthy humans are born with good bacteria already in their intestines. But due to poor diet, antibiotics and other factors, we might need a probiotic supplement to maintain the healthy bacteria in our gut as we get older.

9. Bacteria for life

• Probiotic bacteria keep you healthy. Not only are good bacteria essential for healthy digestion, there is more research showing that good bacteria can help fight lifestyle diseases, such as tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

10. Research is key

• Ongoing scientific research is essential. It is important for consumers to look for products backed by quality scientific research. A few case studies or testimonials are not enough; manufacturers should be able to show consumers the real, peer-reviewed scientific research that stands behind their products.

Michael Shahani serves as the director of operations at Nebraska Cultures Inc. He oversees all aspects of manufacturing, new product development, customer service and marketing, as well as coordinates all scientific resources and activities for the company. For more information, visit www.drshahani.com and www.nebraskacultures.com.

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