Dr. Briffa's latest blog post about probiotics is very interesting. As someone who takes probiotics daily, I especially found it interesting that they may help prevent common illnesses, such as cold or flu, in children. I've been giving my kids probiotics as well and now that I think about it, we have had less of the sickies around here than we usually do. Of course the true test may come when winter sets in and everyone we come in contact with is hacking and sniffling.
For those who aren't familiar with probiotics, here's the definition from Wikipedia:
Probiotics are dietary supplements of live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host". Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but also certain yeasts and bacilli are available.
At first, probiotics were thought to beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance, thus inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria. Today specific health effects are being investigated and documented including alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarrhea, urogenital infections, and atopic diseases.
I buy my probiotics from GNC and, if I remember correctly, they contain around 14 million live bacteria. (Do they pay someone to sit in a lab and look at these with a micrscope, while they count 14 million of these little suckers???)
For those of you who eat store bought yogurt, (watch those carbs!) Activa has probiotics in it as well, but I'm told it's not as effective as taking the supplements.