Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that helps keep your body healthy and working well. It helps to fight off bad bacteria when you have too much of it, helping you feel better. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. They should not be considered as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called good or helpful bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
How do they work?
Probiotics may have a variety of effects in the body, and different probiotics may act in different ways. Probiotics might:
- Help your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your body’s community of microorganisms return to a healthy condition after being disturbed
- Produce substances that have desirable effects
- Influence your body’s immune response.
Effectiveness of probiotics
A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether they’re helpful and safe for various health conditions.
Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (including diarrhea caused), prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. However, in most instances, we still don’t know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also don’t know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.
What Do They Do?
Among other things, probiotics help send food through your gut by affecting nerves that control gut movement. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions they treat are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
- Diarrhea caused by antibiotics
There is also some research that shows they’re useful for problems in other parts of your body. For example, some people say they have helped with:
- Skin conditions, like eczema
- Urinary and vaginal health
- Preventing allergies and colds
- Oral health
Possible side effects
Though taking probiotics may provide various benefits, it can also cause side effects, including:
Digestive symptoms – A person may experience gas and bloating when first using probiotics.
Skin problems – In rare cases, probiotics may cause skin rashes or itchiness.
Allergy risk – Anyone with an allergy or intolerance for gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, or lactose may need to exercise caution when choosing probiotics.
Increased risk of infection – Although probiotics are generally safe to use, findings of a review from 2017 suggest that children and adults with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems should avoid using probiotics. Some people with these conditions have experienced bacterial or fungal infections as a result of probiotic use.
Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – If you have this condition consult with your doctor before taking it
What foods are high in probiotics
The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses.
Which probiotics to take and are there supplements?
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