By Brooke Strickland
When you hear the word “bacteria” you’re likely to think of the negative kinds of bacteria – the nasty stuff that lurks on door handles or in kitchen and bathrooms. But not all bacteria are bad. Probiotics – the “good” bacteria that lives in your gastrointestinal tract is key to keeping your body strong and healthy. At some point, you’ve probably been told that eating yogurt on a regular basis will boost the good bacteria in your gut and will reinforce your immune system. But does a carton of yogurt really amount to much in the scheme of things? What other products with “active cultures” can help? What are some of the benefits of increasing your probiotic intake?
Products with active cultures, such as yogurt, have been shown to help individuals suffering with constipation, diarrhea, lactose intolerance, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers at Tufts University also found other benefits to the body including overall enhancement of the immune system, positive changes in the microflora of the gut, and a decrease in the time food takes to go through the bowel. 
So if you’re looking for an easy way to keep healthy and maintain a strong, active lifestyle, eating foods that are rich in probiotics is easy. Introduce some of these foods into your regular diet.
· Yogurt (especially those made from goat milk)
· Cottage cheese
· Aged cheddar, gouda, or Swiss cheese
· Sourdough bread
· Soy products
· Fermented cabbage (such as sauerkraut and kim chi)
· Miso soup
· Dark chocolate
· Kombucha tea
In addition, there are many products out there now that have been enriched with probiotics, as well as probiotic supplements. These are also great alternatives to increase your intake. 
As with any new supplements or severe dietary changes, be sure to check with a doctor or medical professional to make sure it’s okay for you to start a new regimen.
 Furtado, Margaret. “Are You Getting Enough Probiotics?” http://health.yahoo.net/experts/weightloss/are-you-getting-enough-probiotics Accessed 12/14/2011.
 Group, Edward. “Top 10 Probiotic Foods to Add to your Diet.” http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/probiotic-foods/ Accessed 12/14/2011.