Campus Life

Probiotics - power foods for your health

The human digestive system contains up to 100 trillion bacteria. The good news is some of these bacteria are actually good for you.

The delicate balance between good and bad bacteria in your digestive tract can be easily upset by stress, diarrhea, antibiotic treatment or disease. Probiotics are "friendly bacteria" that are added to foods to restore the good bacteria in your intestine. They can protect us from harmful bacteria, aid digestion, boost our immune system, prevent and treat diarrhea; and some may even relieve constipation.

Probiotics are added to yogurt, some cheese, some milk, kefir (fermented milk) and some drinkable yogurts. Read the ingredient list to see if probiotics are present. Look for three categories of probiotics:

• Lactobacillus (L.) – L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. bulgaricus
• Bifidobacterium – bifidum, B. lactis
• Streptococcus (S.) – S. thermophillus

Yogurt containers may also state "Live and Active Cultures" or "Live Active Bacteria (LAB)", which indicates probiotics are present.

Since 70 per cent of the body's immune system cells are found in the digestive tract, it's a good place to target when trying to boost our immune system.

Although there is no recommended amount for probiotics, probiotics act in the intestine but do not stay in the intestine. To gain their health benefits, probiotics must be eaten daily.

To discuss your individual nutrition needs, call the Health Centre (SU 020) at 403-329-2484 to book an appointment with dietitian Diane Britton.