Yogurt Nutrition Explained: It's Alive! | Women's Health Magazine

Yogurt Nutrition Explained: It's Alive! | Women's Health Magazine.

Here's what we do know. Your digestive system is like Casablanca for microorganisms: Some 400 species of bacteria and yeast can be found there. Some are locals, created by your body; others are tourists, just visiting after you ingest them via food. Of these microorganisms, those like salmonella and some species of E. coli are nasty (usually the tourists, naturally). And others like L. casei and L. reuteri can be nice — very nice. "Probiotics are basically any microorganism that, when ingested, may benefit human health," says Athos Bousvaros, M.D., a specialist in gastroenterology and nutrition at Children's Hospital Boston.

According to Dr. Bousvaros, your digestive tract houses much of your immune system, a complex constellation of cells and tissues that fight pathogenic organisms that can make you sick. Having more of the beneficial organisms there may help prevent illness: They protect you both by stunting the growth of the nasty ones on the spot and by forcing them out, essentially taking all the free seats in the digestive tract; the bad guys just have to move on, ultimately exiting your system. When the number of good bugs drops — for example, after a course of antibiotics, which kills many of the good guys as well as the bad — you might be more likely to get sick. And as you age, your natural levels of beneficial bacteria decrease. But swallowing 'em can help get you healthy, plus stop trouble before it starts.

Probiotics give your immune system a boost. New research shows that L. reuteri can help you kick the Kleenex while your colleagues sniffle. A study in Sweden found that workers taking the probiotics were healthier than the pla — cebo group, who called in sick two and half times more. "L. reuteri helps keep you healthy by secreting reuterin, an antimicrobial agent that prevents the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in the gut," says Vicki Koenig, R.D.

Read more at Women's Health: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/benefits-of-yogurt?page=1#ixzz20L9LKhCM