An article in yesterday’s New York Times raises the question, are probiotics just hype? The answer, according to the article, is no. But the author points out that there are many kinds of potentially beneficial bacteria in unpasteurized fermented foods such as yogurt, and not all of them are beneficial in the same way. Indeed, even a particular bacterium has different strains that may or may not offer particular health boosts.
How are you supposed to know which probiotics are helpful and which aren’t? The author recommends searching the abstracts of studies at PubMed.gov, which can be both enlightening and confusing. It would be nice to have a source or a number of sources that gather scientific data together into a kind of guide to probiotics. Does anybody out there know of any?
Meanwhile, I’m not about to stop eating live foods just because each and every bacteria that populate them has yet to be profiled. Eating yogurt or homemade kefir daily, along with turmeric paste, has helped me stop heartburn. More on how to do that later! Up above are my kefir grains, a little colony of bacteria and yeast that turn milk into kefir yogurt for me. And a strawberry-melon-mint kefir shake like the one below is a particularly tasty way to get a stomach full of helpful probiotics.