Many products from yogurt to supplement pills these days have been touting the addition or presence of acidophilus bacteria in the product. Many packages of these products talk about improving digestive health and maintaining a healthy amount of good bacteria in one's gut. Of course a lot of people hear the word bacteria and immediatly feel disgusted knowing that there are live bacteria in many dairy products such as yogurt. They wonder why anyone would willingly pop a pill filled with bacteria.
Acidophilus is the name for a group of 'good' bacteria that occur naturally in our intestines and digestive system. They aid in breaking down sugars and partially digested food as well as helping maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria at all times. The good bacteria is important for full and proper digestion, if there are too few colonies of good bacteria then some nutrients are unable to be taken from the food. While some of the bacteria under this grouping naturally occur; recent studies have suggested that additional colonies of acidophilus bacteria ingested can ensure the numbers in one's digestive system stay at healthy levels.
It has also been found that having a good number of these bacteria colonies in your digestive system help keep your immune system healthy in addition to regulating and promoting healthy bowel movements. Some doctors have even gone as far as to suggest that regular acidophilus consumption may reduce high blood pressure, prevent cancer, and prevent many GI tract ailments. No hard evidence exists beyond that good bacteria is good for proper GI health and a healthy immune system however. Another interesting benefit to acidophilus bacteria is apparently their ability to reduce or prevent the occurrance of yeast infections in women. Pills have been marketed for this as well as creams.
Yogurt is an excellent source of these good bacteria colonies and yogurt makers have been quick to add more good bacteria to their mixtures. These live bacteria produce lactic acid which some people claim to be able to taste. The taste is described as having a slight hint of sour flavor. Many supplement makers have also introduced capsules containing various acidophilus bacteria types, but it is important to consider the state of those bacteria. The bacteria needs to be alive and healthy; in yogurt this is naturally occurring but in pills it seems like they may not survive in that form.
There are millions and millions of microorgranisms working together throughout our bodies and proper levels of good bacteria are important. In our digestive tract they work together to break down our food further and help our bodies get the most out of every possible nutrient. They keep us healthy and symbiotically we keep them alive. For your money, yogurt is probably the best tasting and easist way to increase the amount of good bacteria in your GI tract but to get the most benefits it has been recommended that a serving of yogurt is consumed daily. Many of the bacteria being injested orally may be killed off by the acid in our stomach, so a steady supply is needed if one is too boost the number present in the GI tract.
Supplements of any kind should be carefully considered and you should speak to your doctor before taking any supplements. Yogurt is generally healthy in all ways and only those who are lactose intolerant should consider avoiding yogurt.