Probiotics are living organisms and need to be treated with care. Find out how to maximize the health benefits from probiotic supplements.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that (with any luck) take up residence in our digestive tracts and help keep us healthy. Although we've long known about these friendly hitchhikers, we are just beginning to appreciate how important they are to our health.
Check out Ask Science's episode, What Is Gut Microbiota?
Like any other living thing, bacteria need certain conditions to remain viable. If the environment is too hot or too acidic, for example, they will die. (Fortunately for frozen yogurt and smoothie enthusiasts, they withstand cold really well.)
With probiotic supplements, there's always a question of how many of the little critters will survive the trip through the extremely acidic environment stomach. So I am grateful to Nutrition Diva reader Jeff for bringing my attention to a study published in 2011 in the scientific journal Beneficial Microbes (a real page-turner, no doubt!).
They found that taking your probiotic supplements with or right before a meal seems to protect the bacteria and increase their survival. Including a bit of fat in the meal seems to help as well!