What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are supplements containing live bacterial strains. Bacteria can be both good and bad. Good bacteria live inside the human body and affect numerous processes. Sometimes, poor nutrition, illness and treatments with certain medications can disturb the bacterial balance or kill off all the beneficial microorganisms. This is when a probiotic supplement will come in handy.
How Do They Work?
A probiotic supplement contains live bacterial strains. When the capsules are ingested, the bacteria travel down the digestive tract. They go past the stomach and eventually reach the gut. This is where the beneficial bacteria begin to multiply and form colonies. As their numbers increase, the good bacteria begin controlling and preventing the growth of pathogens. This is when the health improvements will be experienced.
What Do They Contain?
As already mentioned, probiotic supplements contain a range of beneficial bacteria. Some of the bacterial strains most commonly included in the supplements are:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Lactococcus lactis
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bifidobacterium longum
Who Can Use Probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial for just about everyone. They’re particularly suitable for the individuals that feel digestive distress and the ones that suffer from a compromised immune response.
There are probiotics for adults and probiotics for kids. Probiotics are great after a treatment with antibiotics. If you’re not sure whether probiotics are the right option for you, talk to your doctor. Many physicians already recommend the use of probiotics for faster recovery.
What Health Improvements Will They Produce?
Taking probiotics will have a vastly positive impact on your digestive health. They’re great for overcoming problems like diarrhea and constipation. Probiotics will also reduce gas and flatulence.
There are reports that the beneficial bacteria could also aid the recovery of individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and even food allergies.
Some of the other health benefits that probiotics bring to the table include:
- Weight regulation and reduced cravings for sugary treats
- Reduction in yeast infections
- Reduction in urinary tract infections
- Stronger immune response
- Improved oral health and a fresher breath
- Prevention of skin conditions like eczema and hives
- Reduction in allergy symptoms
How Do You Choose The Best Probiotic Supplement?
The bacterial strains that supplements contain and the concentration (CFU) are two of the most important factors to consider when buying such products.
There’s a lot of online information. It’s easy to figure out what each strain of beneficial bacteria does and whether it would be capable of addressing the particular problem you’re dealing with.
Are There Any Risks Or Side Effects?
Taking probiotics doesn’t cause serious side effects. In the very beginning, you may experience some digestive discomfort as the beneficial bacteria colonies are being replenished.
Some people experience bloating and flatulence during the first few days of taking probiotics. These problems will soon disappear and digestive health will improve significantly.
Can’t I Just Get Beneficial Bacteria From Food?
If you’ve done your research, you probably know that many of the beneficial bacteria that probiotic supplements contain are also found in foods. Some of the best foods that are sources of such microorganisms include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, microalgae, miso soup, pickles and tempeh.
These foods don’t contain enough of the beneficial bacteria. In addition, if yogurt has been pasteurized, all of the microorganisms it contains are killed in the process.
Going for a supplement will give you a much higher concentration and help you make sure that you’re getting all of the beneficial bacteria your body needs.
How Fast Do Probiotics Produce Results?
The answer depends on a number of factors. The degree to which the gut flora has been disturbed is the first and the most important one. If all of the beneficial bacteria have been killed, it will take some time for the colonies to get reestablished.
Some people see health improvements within days of starting a probiotic supplement. For others, it will take a couple of weeks until digestive health and immunity improve significantly.
Can Probiotics Be Taken With Medications Or Other Supplements?
The beneficial bacteria found in probiotics don’t interact with pharmaceuticals, vitamins and minerals.
If you’d like to boost your immune response and feel better, you should definitely consider combining a probiotic supplement with a product that contains essential vitamins and minerals. Ask your doctor for a product recommendation.