Probiotics are living microorganisms that, when ingested, may help prevent and treat some illnesses. This colony of bacteria, the gut microbiota, is involved in immune health, digestion, and other functions. This group of organisms are microbes, a combination of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. Everyone’s microbiota is unique. Having the right bacteria in the right place is what enables probiotics to be effective.
Most live within the gastrointestinal tract, but there are other locations that microbes can be found. The locations are in contact with the outside world and include the gut, mouth, vagina, urinary tract, skin, and lungs.
Image Credit: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics
Probiotics work to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the body. Good bacteria supports immune function and controls inflammation. It also works to
fight off bad bacteria that can make you sick. Other ways good bacteria helps your body include:
• Aiding in digestion
• Keeping bad bacteria from getting out of control leading to sickness
• Creating vitamins
• Supporting the cells that line the gut to prevent bad bacteria that has been consumed from entering the bloodstream.
There are many types of bacteria that are considered to be probiotics. However the two most common types of bacteria used in probiotics are Lactobacillus
What foods are good sources of probiotics?
Fermented foods are made through the growth and metabolic activity of a variety of live microbial cultures. Examples include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and cottage cheese. Many of these foods are rich sources of live and potentially beneficial microbes. Certain unfermented foods, such as milk, juice, infant formula, have added microorganisms. The live microorganisms used to make many fermented foods, including yogurt, typically survive well in the product throughout its shelf life. Check food labels for “live and active cultures.”
Research is being conducted to find out more about how probiotics can help the body. There are multiple conditions that could benefit from probiotics may help. Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in the body include:
Is is safe to take probiotics?
Most of the probiotic strains used have a long history of safety. When you first start taking them, it may take a few days for your body to adjust, and you may experience mild stomach upset, diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating.
For most healthy people, probiotics don’t cause harm. They are considered safe and often given to try to see if they help. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist about the best probiotic for you.
How do I choose a probiotic?
There are so many choices on the market when it comes to probiotics. First, you need to choose the right one to address your specific problem. To be a true probiotic, a product must contain live and active bacterial cultures. It should indicate this on its packaging. A general recommendation is to choose a product with at least 1 billion colony forming units that contains Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, or Saccharomyces boulardii. These particular cultures are some of the most researched.
How should I take probiotics?
First, you need to find out the storage conditions. Some probiotics like Florajen require refrigeration in order to maintain live, viable bacteria. It is also better to use distilled or filtered water to take probiotics. Tap water may reduce the effectiveness.
Compounding Solutions' Extra Strength Probiotic - Contains multiple strains of bacteria to restore gut and immune health. Each capsule contains 35 billion cells.
Compounding Solutions' Probiotic Daily Support - Contains multiple strains of bacteria to restore and maintain a healthy digestive system. Each capsule contains 5 billion viable cells.
Compounding Solutions' Probiotic Extra Strength DF - Contains 9 different species of bacteria from non-dairy sources restoring good bacteria throughout the digestive tract. Each strain has an affinity for different parts of the digestive tract. Each capsule contains 52 billion CFUs (colony-forming units).
Pure Encapsulations Probiotic G.I. - Contains multiple strains of bacteria to restore and maintain digestive health. Each capsule contains 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) and is made with hypoallergenic, vegan ingredients.
Florajen Digestion - Helps restore and maintain healthy flora in the digestive system. It contains multiple strains of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, Each capsule contains 15 billion live cultures.
Florajen Acidophilus - Contains an extra high potency, single strain of bacteria to restore balance of good bacteria in the body. It supports digestive, immune, vaginal, and urinary health. Each capsule contains 20 billion live cultures.
Florajen Kids - Specially formulated for children to maintain immune and digestive health. It contains multiple strains of bacteria with 6 billion live cultures per capsule.