There is too much conflicting information available regarding what it means to be healthy and what the human body needs each day in order to function properly. What both anecdotal evidence and scientific research back up, however, is the amazing health benefits of probiotics for many people.
What Are Probiotics?
A probiotic is a type of live bacteria that, once consumed, can provide the body with many health benefits. They can stimulate the growth of other (good) bacteria already living within the body.
Where Are Probiotics Found?
Natural foods – Some common foods that contain probiotics are yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh, and even some types of cheese. Usually, these natural sources have been fermented; this fermentation is what helps produce healthy bacteria.
Supplements – Plenty of people want to be healthy; however, they can’t stand the smell or taste of foods that may contain forms of probiotics or need to avoid dairy products for any number of reasons. And that’s okay! There are many other ways to reach probiotic goals. One such way is to get a supplement at a local health store or pharmacy. For these products, it’s a good idea to look at what strand of bacteria they contain and their amount of colony forming units (CFUs). Bacterial strands to look for include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. CFUs are a measure of how much bacteria are in the supplement.
Potential Health Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics primarily help by balancing the number of healthy bacteria already surviving in the body, specifically the bacteria from the stomach and intestines. This can be helpful for conditions like celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that destroys parts of the intestine. Probiotics can also help with other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (like diarrhea), can help alleviate some symptoms of certain mental health disorders, and can be beneficial for the heart by lowering blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Potential Side Effects of Probiotics
Probiotics are good bacteria in theory. This means that any side effects people experience may be mild and/or short-lasting. It is common to experience bloating and or gas when first starting probiotics. These effects should fade with time as the body adjusts and bacteria levels become more leveled. If any uncomfortable symptoms persist, it may be time to see a medical healthcare professional.
Those who are pregnant, want to give a supplement to a child, or have a compromised immune system are advised to speak to their doctor before starting any supplements like probiotics. Licensed professionals can give more accurate information about whether probiotics are right for a particular situation and can properly advise patients on what dosage to aim for each day. They can also make sure there is no underlying condition that needs to be treated prior to starting any new health routine.
Like anything else, there are many matters to consider in the use of probiotics. They are found in many natural food sources, but are also available in a supplement form. People can certainly use them to help regulate natural bodily functions and potentially help alleviate the symptoms of some health conditions. Always talk to a licensed medical professional before starting any new health routine.