In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal there was an article on probiotics in foods. Despite my interest in healthy eating, I had never really delved into the world of probiotics. I love yogurt, and have heard that "live and active cultures" are a smart thing to look for on the label, but I had never taken the time to educate myself further on the topic.
That all changed when R and G were both sick after the New Year’s holiday, and poor little G’s system did not respond well to the antibiotic he was prescribed. Suffice it to say his whole GI system was miserable, and I was miserable coping with the effects. So I quickly got on the phone with the pediatrician when our traditional yogurt failed to do fix the problem.
Our pediatrician recommended pediatric Florastor, which worked like a charm. However, it was pricey, and since every other new food advertisement seems to be touting some sort of probiotic benefit, it got me wondering whether some of these probiotic-enhanced foods could fill the bill.
According to the WSJ article, 231 probiotic or "healthy bacteria" foods came to market last year, up from only 34 such foods in 2005. However, of the several hundred probiotic foods on the market, only 1-2 dozen have clinical research to support their effectiveness.
The article further recommends that consumers seek probiotic products that specifically name the bacteria, and to look for three particular names (such as "Lactobacillus rhamnosus GC"), which identify the particular strain of the bacteria. The article was also helpful in deciphering which foods may actually have clinically researched benefits.
From my own experience, and bolstered by this article, I'm a believer in probiotics. However, I remain convinced that as far as food "cures" go, there is no miracle food. Neither pomegranates, acai berries, yogurt/probiotics, spinach, nor nuts will alone cure us of our health woes. It is cliché, but it stands to reason: "Everything in moderation."