Probiotics are beneficial, or “good” bacteria (mainly Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium) that are similar to those normally found in your body. They increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract, repair the gut lining, help in producing vitamins, and even detoxify the body. One of the main reasons we lose beneficial bacteria is from using antibiotics. While the antibiotics destroy the infection and harmful bacteria they also destroy the good or friendly bacteria.*
WATCH: The Pros of Probiotics (video)
In addition to antibiotics there are other factors such as improper diet, toxins and stress that can also destroy the beneficial bacteria. Since we all have some degree of stress, and eating a healthy diet is a work in progress for many, it is a good idea to supplement with a daily probiotic. I know many people who are regularly take antacids and prescription pills for acid reflux and indigestion. Including probiotics along with a healthy diet can alleviate those symptoms.
Many doctors and researchers believe that good health starts in the digestive tract and imbalances can lead to more serious illnesses. Studies show that regular use of probiotics is good for the health of the whole body since they improve immune system function. When beneficial bacteria in your body is low and you don’t replace it, other serious issues such as urinary tract infections, fatigue, and even irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, Crohn’s disease and skin problems can occur. Taking probiotics simultaneously with antibiotics can also prevent vaginal yeast infections in women.
You can get your probiotics through diet by eating things such as yogurt (make sure it has active cultures or acidophilus) but try to eat plain yogurt since flavored yogurt tends to have a lot of sugar. Other foods include Kefir, natural pickles, sauerkraut, miso, and fermented and unfermented milk. If you need more probiotics than you can get from food, especially if you are taking antibiotics, you can buy a probiotic supplement. Make sure it says, “live and active cultures” and contains lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Most need to be refrigerated and always check the expiration date.
*The very first thing you should do before considering any new supplement is speak with your doctor about why you feel they may benefit you.