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Probiotics: The Bugs That Are Our Friends (Part 2)
April 30, 2012
Bug Benefits, Continued…
I wanted to pick up where I left off last week regarding all the good that probiotics do:
They may help prevent urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, for short, are more common in people with diabetes than in those without diabetes. Part of this is due to the fact that the immune system in a person with diabetes isn’t working quite up to speed, making him more susceptible to any type of infection. And some people with diabetes who have neuropathy may have difficulty fully emptying their bladder, which means urine stays around longer than it should, increasing the risk of harmful bacteria growing and causing infection. A couple of strains of probiotics may help fight UTIs from occurring in the first place.
They may prevent yeast infections. Most women (with and without diabetes) have had a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives. Not surprisingly, women with diabetes are more likely to suffer from yeast infections, particularly if blood glucose levels are high. Yeast infections can also occur in the mouth and under folds of skin. Lactobacillus acidophilus is a strain of probiotics that may help prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Note: if you’ve been prescribed a medicine to treat a UTI, a yeast infection or any other type of infection, don’t stop taking the medicine in favor of probiotics. Always consult with your physician before stopping or changing any medicine.
Other benefits. When you’ve been hit with a stomach “bug” (which is usually a virus), probiotics can help reduce accompanying diarrhea. The power of probiotics is still being explored and studied. There’s some evidence that probiotics may protect against colon cancer, certain types of intestinal diseases, eczema, lung infections, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even obesity. However, we don’t know enough about probiotics yet to know for sure if they’ll help with these conditions or not, so stay tuned.
Food Sources of Probiotics
• Yogurt (look for the words “live and active cultures” on the container)
In addition to these foods, some brands of sour cream and cottage cheese may contain probiotics. And food manufacturers have jumped on the probiotic bandwagon by adding probiotics to cereal, juice, frozen yogurt, and even cookies and candy (not surprisingly).
Again, if you’re specifically looking for probiotic-fortified food, always look for the phrase and/or seal that says “live and active cultures.” Many foods are processed with heat and the heat kills off probiotics. When choosing a yogurt, look for the seal (created by the National Yogurt Association), which signifies that at least 100 million organisms per gram are in the yogurt at the time of manufacture; you can also look at the container to make sure the yogurt contains the live Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus strains.
More next week!
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