Probiotic yoghurts and drinks get the scientific seal of approval
Probiotic yoghurts, drinks and pills are finally receiving approval from the scientific world, with tests showing that they are beneficial to health, may help control weight and can even act as effective medicines.
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria, found naturally in the gut, which support digestion and the immune system.
Supplements to boost these have been sold for the last few years as probiotic yoghurt, drinks and pills. There have been anecdotal accounts of the benefits, but now scientific tests are proving that they really can help health.
A series of tests have found a link between probiotics and weight control. A team of scientists from Finland last week revealed that pregnant women who took a supplement of two widely used probiotics had less tummy fat.
The key seems to be their effect on two bacteria, found commonly in the guts of people who are obese, which mean they absorb more calories and store more fat.
In a separate study, the team found that infants who take larger amounts of a strain called bifidobacteria are more likely to maintain normal weight.
Other researchers have studied medical effects. University College Cork, for example, found that two probiotics were as effective as antibiotics at fighting certain infections, including listeria, which is a particular risk for pregnant women.
Researchers at University Hospital, Lund, in Sweden, meanwhile, found that one strain of probiotic helped prevent patients on ventilators from developing pneumonia.
And research underway at Imperial College London has found a huge range of effects including controlling cholesterol.
To get the best from supplements, the Daily Mail recommends you choose probiotic drinks and supplements rather than yoghurts. Look for products containing both bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, and a prebiotic such as inulin or fructo-oligosaccharides. Make sure the dose is high enough – you need at least ten million live micro-organisms and take daily.
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