The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administred in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host,” though most people would probably just describe them as “good bacteria.” There’s been a growing body of research on how these good bacteria support good health: Boosting our immune systems, helping with digestion, fighting bad bacteria like E. coli. The balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut — our so-called ‘intestinal flora’ — can even affect our weight, insulin resistance and blood pressure, as Carrie noted here earlier today. Eating probiotic rich foods — kefir, yogurt, tempeh, kombucha — or taking probiotic supplements can help tip this balance of bacteria in your favor. But your options no longer stop there. These days, lactobacillus and bifodobacteria (two of the most powerful and common probiotic strains) are showing up in everything from chocolate bars to toothpaste to tampons.
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