Health benefits of taking probiotics

We take vitamins and minerals to safeguard our health. Should we also add a daily dose of bacteria?

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Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning "for life"), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. In fact, probiotic-laced beverages are big business in Japan as well as in Europe.

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