If you read health magazines or follow get-fit boards on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen the word “probiotics” crop up. But aside from knowing they’re good for you, do you really know what probiotics are or what they do for your body?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that naturally occur in your digestive system and can be found in some foods. Having a healthy amount of these bacteria in your system keeps things running smoothly, but they are not some kind of cure-all or hidden weight loss secret.
Since they are naturally occurring, probiotics are always present in your digestive system, but they could occasionally use a boost from outside sources.
“Every now and again these ‘good bacteria’ need to be recharged because when we go through colds or the flu or high-stress situations that throw off our life balance, these beneficial organisms can be depleted from our bodies,” says Dr. Dirk. “Eating foods that have these beneficial organisms help restore balance to our bodies.”
But what they can’t do is help you lose weight. Although a recent study suggested probiotic pills may help women with weight loss, the research was not conclusive and Dr. Dirk says it doesn’t quite stack up. Just because something is healthy does not mean it will help you lose weight. So even if your body needs probiotics, eating them does not mean the “healthy” result will be weight loss.
So how can you keep your probiotics in check without going overboard? Make sure you’re getting them from whole, healthful foods. Anything other than that is unnecessary.
“Eating a balanced diet that has small portions of yogurt, cheese and natural plants, like fruits and vegetables, helps keep these healthy bacteria and yeast in balance in our bodies,” Dr. Dirk says.
Does it sound like probiotics are for you? Yogurt is the top source for getting more probiotics into your diet the healthy way. Because of the way it’s made, all yogurt contains these helpful microorganisms—not just the ones with flashy marketing campaigns or extra digestive promises.