Probiotic is a term often thrown around to describe the benefits of certain foods, but what exactly does it mean and how could they help?

What are probiotics?

According to the World Health Organisations, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host."

This includes the most common types such as bifidobacteria and other certain yeasts and bacilli, which are specially added to love cultures in yoghurt or dietary supplements.

How do they work?

Probiotics have been shown by studies to benefit the user by improving their intestinal microbial balance, inhibiting toxin production and helping with health problems.

These include calming constipation and diarrhoea, as well as other digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion and bloating.

They help to balance out the bacteria in our digestive system, encouraging optimal health, calming the possible upset caused by medications, diet, diseases and environmental influences.

This can help regulate the digestive process and ease discomfort and suffering.

Where can you find them?

Probiotics can be found in a range of sources, with yoghurt one of the most common foods to contain it. If it says live culture or live bacteria on the label then it is probiotic.

You can find them in cheese which is not baked, especially in aged cheeses such as cheddar and blue cheese, although stay clear of processed cheeses or spreads, as these will not contain probiotics.

Kefit, a yoghurt-like drink, is also a good source and is available in most specialty food stores.

Many soy products use probiotics, especially Miso, which is a seasoning paste made from fermented soy and barley or rice. You can use this in a base for many Japanese dishes, soups and sauces.

With nutritional supplements proving ever more popular, probiotics are being added to a whole host of foods, just be sure to check the packaging first!

Posted by Freya Harper