Web Zap*Germs Archive

March 20, 2005

Americans' Aversion to Bacteria Hinders Probiotics Use

The USA lags behind Europe and Japan in the use of foods containing healthful probiotic bacteria. According to food industry analyst Tanya Seaton of Datamonitor, this is because Americans hate all bacteria, not just harmful varieties.

While the adult body harbors 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells, Americans have come to believe that nearly all bacteria are bad. Over the years, antibacterial soaps, lotions and gels have become increasingly popular as consumers seek to rid themselves of "harmful" or "dirty" bacteria.

Probiotic bacteria reside in the digestive tract and can provide several health benefits, ranging from lowering cholesterol and boosting immunity, to reducing the effects of lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and even gum disease. In addition, specific strains of probiotic bacteria, such as L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. casei and B. bifidus, can be used to prevent the growth of "unfriendly" bacteria-researchers believe they may play a role in combating the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Recent studies have also shown that probiotics may have additional benefits. Learn more here.


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