What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics have been getting a lot of press recently. Perhaps you’ve heard the term before but you don’t really understand what it means. Probiotics are essentially a type of “good bacteria” that can help keep the digestive system balanced. They offer many overall health benefits to you.
These tiny microorganisms occur naturally in the body but some people don’t produce enough to have a significant benefit. The ideal ratio is 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria but for most people this ratio is almost reversed. For this reason, many people take probiotics in food or supplemental form.
How Do Probiotics Help?
Probiotics can be used to treat the following illnesses:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Athlete’s foot
Some evidence shows that probiotics are useful for prevention of digestive tract infections. In fact, it’s useful for preventing many types of infections such as yeast infections and urinary tract infections. Probiotics can also help restore normal bowel function. They can even help lower cholesterol and fight against the negative effects of stress on your body.
Probiotics also play a role in how your body absorbs nutrients from food and breaks down fats and proteins. They can help boost your metabolism. They are very useful for travelers who might experience digestional upset when eating foreign foods.
Probiotics are particularly important for people who are taking antibiotics. Antibiotics are very effective at killing bacteria that make you sick but they can’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria and thus end up killing some good bacteria in the process. Illness, injury, and high levels of stress can also cause your levels of bad bacteria to surpass the good bacteria. Supplementing with probiotics can help restore the body’s balance of good bacteria.
Some parents have had success using probiotics to alleviate crying in colicky babies. It is believed that gastrointestinal discomfort contributes to colic. A few drops of probiotics can help but it’s a good idea to check with your pediatrician first.
Signs You Need Probiotics
If you have chronic bad breath, diarrhea, or constipation, probiotics might be a good solution for you. Fatigue is another sign that your body’s bad bacteria levels could be unusually high. Many people find that consuming probiotics is an easy and effective way to reduce gastrointestinal upset.
How To Get Probiotics
There are plenty of ways you can get more good bacteria into your body. You can find probiotics in yogurt that is labeled as containing active cultures as well as in acidophilus drinks. Kefir is a great source of probiotics. Some exotic foods such as miso and tempeh also contain probiotics.
If you’re not a fan of any of the food sources of probiotics, you can always supplement. One popular method is probiotic drops such as lactobacillus acidophilus. They can also be taken in pill form. People who can’t swallow pills might have better luck with powdered probiotics that are mixed into water or juice.
The Safety Of Probiotics
Probiotics are generally considered safe to take. In fact, they already exist naturally in your body. The only exception is people who are taking immunosuppressant medication as this may cause an infection. Check with your doctor before taking probiotics if you:
- Have chronic medical conditions
- Take prescription medications
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
What’s Your Say?
Have you ever tried probiotics, considering the many health benefits it has you might think of taking it, before doing so do consult your physician.
What are your views on probiotics, do share them by putting your comments below.
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