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kombuchaBy Anne Underwood for



Probiotics are the latest craze in the food industry, turning up in everything from pizza to chocolate. They now tally $20 billion in global sales, expanding at 20 to 30% a year. If you’re not already consuming them in some form, chances are you will be soon.

“Probiotics are the new vitamins,” says Shekhar Challa, MD, a gastroenterologist in Topeka, KS, and the author of Probiotics for Dummies. That’s a bold statement, because probiotics are actually live microbes—specifically, beneficial bacteria that promote human health if consumed in large enough quantities. For germophobic Americans, it’s a revolutionary concept. But the 100 trillion microbes that live in your large intestine do dozens of good things for you. They process indigestible fibers and help keep bowel function regular. They produce a number of vitamins, including B6, B12, and K2, and aid in the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Equally important, they help fend off bad bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause diarrhea and, in extreme cases, severe anemia, kidney failure, and death.

Keep reading for more information on probiotics…

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