Most people have heard of antibiotics (抗生物質). They are medicines used to kill bacteria (細菌) in the the body when we have some kind of infection (感染). A little while ago, I had a small cut on my leg that got infected. I don’t think it was so serious, but the doctors recommended that I come in every day for about a week to receive IV (点滴) antibiotics.
The antibiotics did the trick, and my infection was cured. But then I thought back to something that I had heard. The human body is filled with bacteria, and while some of it is harmful (有害), other varieties of bacteria live in our gut, and help us to digest (消化) food and to be healthy. The problem with antibiotics is that they kill this good bacteria along with the bad.
In recent years, some people have become concerned with ways of encouraging the growth of good bacteria in our bodies. One way of doing this is by taking what are called “probiotics” (プロバイオティクス). As the name suggests, they are the opposite of antibiotics, increasing helpful (有益) bacterial strains (菌株) so that our bodies feel and work better. While you can buy special probiotic capsules (錠剤) and drinks, some fermented foods (発酵食品) may also be rich in probiotics.
Fermented foods commonly available in Japan that may have a beneficial, probiotic effect include yogurt, miso, natto, kimchi, and traditional pickles like nukazuke or pickled plums. Luckily, I love all of these foods. Now that I’m finished with my regimen (投薬計画) of antibiotics, I’m going to try extra hard to eat a lot of fermented foods. But even people who haven’t taken antibiotics might benefit from probiotic foods, so be sure to check them out!