Probiotics Neutralize "Bad Guy" Bacteria
There's been a growing number of articles recently in U.S. newspapers & magazines about the benefits of probiotic bacteria. This one from the Chicago Tribune provides a good overview on the topic. Here are several key grafs:
Probiotics are among the fastest-growing category of functional foods, according to the market research firm Mintel, which cites a 140 percent increase last year in the launch of new probiotic-fortified products.
So far, the strongest evidence on probiotics has focused on digestive-tract problems such as lactose intolerance and diarrhea -- including infectious diarrhea among children and the type that develops after a person has taken antibiotics (which wipe out both good and bad bacteria in their path, altering the natural balance of the digestive tract).
Additional studies suggest probiotics may help decrease the risk of colon cancer and ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and the more serious inflammatory bowel diseases, which include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Researchers also are beginning to see signs that probiotics may help lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
Europeans have long embraced the concept of probiotics (which is derived from the Greek word meaning "for life"), but Americans haven't fully warmed up to the idea of downing a drink swimming with billions of live microorganisms.