November 2020

What are probiotics?

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.

Where do microbes live in the body?

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.

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How do probiotics work?

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.

• Breakdown and absorb medications.

What are the most common types of bacteria used in probiotics?

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

and Bifidobacterium. Many probiotics also contain good yeast. The most common type of yeast used in probiotics is Saccharomyces boulardii.

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.”

What health conditions could benefit from probiotics?

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:

Diarrhea (from C. diff or antibiotics)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Gum disease


Yeast infections

Lactose intolerance

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Urinary tract infections

Upper respiratory infections

Should I take probiotics while on an antibiotic?

Antibiotics are unable to distinguish between the good and bad bacteria in your body. When bacteria is killed in your digestive system, it can cause diarrhea, especially in children. According to the Journal of Family Practice, probiotics may reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. However, probiotics need to be taken 2 hours before or 2 hours after your antibiotic, so that they will work and not be destroyed by the antibiotic. If you are only taking probiotics during antibiotic treatment, then you should continue taking probiotics after you have finished your course of antibiotics to help restore the healthy bacteria in your system.

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.

What probiotics are available at Compounding Solutions Pharmacy & Wellness?