What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help provide a natural balance of organisms in the intestines. There are roughly 400 different types of probiotic bacteria in the human digestive tract. These “good” bacteria help to stop the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. Probiotics are found in both foods and supplements.
What are Probiotics used for?
Probiotics can be used to prevent diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps related to antibiotic use, and general good health in the gut. A healthy gut is beneficial in assisting the body to be healthy and promotes general wellness. When our “good” bacteria is lost, we are prone to other infections such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections. Both of these conditions are common in women of all ages but due to hormonal changes can increase during menopause.
Probiotics also help to control immune responses and inflammation in the bowel. These useful bacteria have been studied for benefits in colon cancer, skin infections, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Other ways probiotics can help include:
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema in children
- Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
What about Safety?
So far research shows probiotics to be safe and not to cause illness. More studies are being conducted on their use in children, the elderly, and persons who have extremely weak immune systems. Probiotics are regulated as foods not drugs.
Where can I find Probiotics?
Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt. Additionally, probiotics are added to some foods and available as dietary supplements. Manufacturers are responsible for safety of the development of probiotic supplements as well as supporting the claims they make on their label. Particular bacteria works better on particular issues, so check with your practitioner to see if the supplement you are taking will benefit your particular issue. As always, talk to your provider and discuss your symptoms in order to work together to develop a treatment plan. I advocate probiotics for many of my patients. Do you use probiotics? If so let us know how they are working for you .