What probiotics can do for you
Literally meaning “for life,” probiotics are gaining the spotlight for the health benefits they offer. Could microscopic organisms like bacteria and yeast be good for you? What about all the times you’ve taken antibiotics to fight harmful bacteria in your body?
Well, there are good bacteria and there are bad. Germs are bad and you want to avoid them because they can make you sick. But there are hundreds of other kinds of bacteria that aren’t harmful and may actually be beneficial. Don’t believe it?
Consider this: right this moment, there are more than 500 different types of bacteria naturally hanging out inside your gut. Health problems can arise when these friendly bacteria are reduced or off-balance, but probiotics (bacteria similar to the natural bacteria in your body) may help restore balance to your natural flora.
Should you take probiotics? You’re about to find out.
Boost Immune System
Clean, sterile environments may be partially to blame for the rise in allergic and autoimmune diseases. When the immune system isn’t built up by exposure to pathogens, it can become weak. Probiotics can strengthen the immune system by exposing your body to friendly bacteria.
Studies have shown probiotics can lessen the chance of developing infections not only in your intestines, but throughout your whole body. Take probiotics on a regular basis and you may just ward off illnesses like colds, strep throat, ear infections, stomach bugs, and even dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections.
One New Zealand study found that athletes who took probiotics contracted 40 percent fewer gastrointestinal infections and colds than athletes who took a placebo. So it seems to genuinely be effective.
Interested in a probiotic-induced immune system boost? Look for probiotics found in supplement form or in yogurt. They’ll be labeled as bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus reuteri, lactobacillus rhamnosus, or lactobacillus casei.
Improve Intestinal Health
Probiotics have also been found helpful for relieving a number of gastrointestinal conditions including diarrhea following use of antibiotics, infectious diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Child have diarrhea?
Been on antibiotics recently? Have irritable bowel syndrome? Probiotics help relieve diarrhea by restoring your body’s natural bacteria, fighting the bad bacteria that cause diarrhea, and keeping your intestinal lining healthy. Studies show that compared to a placebo pill, probiotics can reduce diarrhea caused by the use of antibiotics by 60 percent.
The microorganisms found in probiotics are also used to treat necrotizing enterocolitis (an intestinal infection seen in infants) and may help prevent pouchitis (an inflammation of the intestines following intestinal surgery).
To treat diarrhea, you’ll want to seek out these types of probiotics: s. cerevisiae, s. boulardii, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus acidophilus, or lactobacillus casei.
Maintain Urogenital Health
Women may find probiotics beneficial for the health of their urogenital tract, which consists of the urinary system and reproductive organs. Like the intestines, the vagina contains a balance of microorganisms. When this balance is thrown off by antibiotics, birth control pills, or spermicides, a woman runs a risk of yeast infection, urinary tract infection, or bacterial vaginosis. Taking lactobacilli, L rhamnosus, or L fermentum probiotics can restore the natural balance of microorganisms and treat or prevent these unpleasant infections.
Probiotics are like the microorganisms already found in your body so they’re generally safe to take. Some kinds of probiotics have been around for thousands of years, like those found in cultured milk products and fermented foods. However, they can’t be taken by everyone. Those who have a weakened immune system, a serious illness, or severe pancreatitis (an infection of the pancreas) ought to avoid taking probiotics.
And remember that in the U.S. and some other countries, probiotics aren’t regulated like other medication. Therefore, you’ll want to so be sure to tell your doctor what supplements you are taking and always purchase your probiotics from a trustworthy manufacturer.