Your key defense against viruses like colds and flu is your immune system -- and 70 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system. This means that if your gut is overrun with bad bacteria, there’s a good chance your immune system will not be functioning at its best.
"Introducing friendly bacteria into the digestive system improves how we absorb vitamins, nutrients and co-factors, so overall, immunity is boosted," Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, medical director of the Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine, told ABC News.
Probiotics have also been found to:
- Prevent infections after surgery
- Treat acute and chronic diarrhea
- Relieve inflammatory bowel disease
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Protect against cancer development and progression
- Prevent eczema in children
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Help reduce weight gain and maintain ideal body weight
- Help reduce systemic allergic responses
Many cultures embrace probiotic-rich foods in their daily diets. These include fermented, raw foods that have not been pasteurized, such as:
- Natto (fermented soy)