Have you eaten yoghurt, looked at its label and asked, “What on earth is a probiotic?” Well, you’re not alone! Probiotics became popular around 10 years ago, when the idea of “friendly” bacteria was fascinating. When we see them in science textbooks, bacteria are often portrayed as hairy and ugly. They also cause many illnesses, so how could they be good for us?
So what are probiotics, really?
Probiotics (which means "for life") is a general term that includes all types of bacteria that are good for the human body. Some of them work by competing with harmful bacteria for food and starving them out while others work to improve the gut’s immune response. Amongst the many kinds of probiotics, one variety in particular stands out: bifidiobacterium.
Your gut is a fierce battle ground between germs and immune cells. Bifidobacterium are a group of bacteria residing in the intestines, but they can also be grown outside the body and ingested. Bifidobacterium bifidum (one of the more notable species of bifidobacterium) attaches to cells of the intestine and protects it against toxins and germs, fending them off from the bloodstream. Other common conditions that bifidobacterium can treat are constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), traveller’s diarrhoea and more.
Amazing! So where can I find them?
Fermented foods! Yoghurt, soy products and pickles are loaded with probiotics. And yoghurt is the easiest product to find at shops around town.
Nestlé tip: look out for words like ”live and active cultures“ or ones that say exactly what kind of probiotics are present. Nestlé’s Acti-V Yoghurt, for example, is a very solid option that states clearly that it contains more than one billion FORTIS®, a patented bifidobacterium. What’s more, it’s low in fat, preservative free and comes in appealing, fruity flavours.