Probiotics are living microorganisms that provide benefit to the individual taking or ingesting them. They are available in pill form or in some of the food available to us. Yogurt is one of the most well known examples of a ‘good bacteria’ probiotics that has been stated in commercials to help regulate your digestive system. There are many benefits to incorporating probiotics into your daily life, but more research is being done to determine just how beneficial they are and in what doses they are recommended.
Probiotics can be any living microorganism such as bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. They are most commonly bacteria similar to the kind found in the gut of adults and especially infants. This bacteria is present when we are born and it helps destroy many possible harms to our body.
Probiotics have been known to aid in:
Infections of the skin
Infections such as diarrhea
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
Infections of the reproductive region
What Do They Do?
Probiotics do a number of things to aid in the medical complications above. They can crowd out bad bacteria, not allowing them to cause harm to the body. This is how IBS, IBD, and diarrhea are remedied with probiotics. They can also create bacteria that will eat the bad bacteria which will help maintain a stable environment for digestive function and eliminate infections.
Studies have shown that taking probiotics may come with a short list of side effects. Mild bloating or discomfort may be linked to taking probiotics and in some rare cases they actually cause an infection where antibiotics are needed to rectify the situation. Probiotics have been gaining in popularity since the early 21st century and those are the only side effects to be reported. Further studies are planned to determine whether young children, the elderly, or the immune system compromised will react differently to these pills or food options.
You can purchase a probiotic supplement or pill in any Walgreens, Target, etc. They range in price from approximately $5.00 – $35.00 depending on which type you chose to buy. You can also purchase them over the internet on Amazon.com for example.
There are also several foods that contain probiotics:
Brewer’s Yeast (in beer)
Which way you get the probiotic into your system isn’t important. They will perform the same function.
Commonly Associated With Prebiotics
Probiotics are living organisms while prebiotics are not. Prebiotics are food that the good bacteria love to eat that help them survive and continue to do their intended job. Prebiotics will not be helpful if no good bacteria exists to utilize their nutrients. When probiotics and prebiotics are used together, they form a symbiotic relationship where the good bacteria is now present and it has ample food source to survive.
Probiotics In The News
The Los Angeles Times ran an article June 21st, 2010 stating that probiotics may not be as useful as they appear on television. The actual amount that needs to be taken to see the benefits, as well as how these benefits are to be measured, have yet to be fully studied.
The NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), is currently sponsoring studies to determine the effectiveness in treating diarrhea in children in a third world country, whether they decrease the levels of certain problem causing substances that cause kidney stones, and whether probiotics can be used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The NCCAM Website
The LA Times
Google Product Search for Probiotics