Weekly Wellness: What the heck is a Probiotic?
COLUMBIA - Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
Researchers are trying to figure out exactly how probiotics work. Here are some of the ways they may keep you healthy:
- When you lose "good" bacteria in your body (like after you take antibiotics, for example), probiotics can help replace them.
- They can lower the amount of "bad" bacteria in your system that can cause infections or other problems.
- They can help balance your "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep your body working like it should.
There are two groups of probiotics. They are:
- Lactobacillus - most common probiotic. It's the one you'll find in yogurt and other fermented foods.
- Bifidobacterium - found in some dairy products.
Probiotics help move food through your gut, this we know. And more research is still being done to figure out what probiotics are best for other health problems. We know that common conditions treated with probiotics are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
- Antibiotic-related diarrhea
There is also some research to show they ease the symptoms of non-stomach-related problems. For example, some people say they have helped with:
- Skin conditions, like eczema
- Urinary and vaginal health
- Preventing allergies and colds
- Oral health
While you can purchase probiotic products and supplements, you can also find probiotics naturally in foods such as:
- Miso soup
- Fermented soft cheeses (i.e. Gouda)
- Sourdough bread
- Acidophilus milk
- Sour pickles (no vinegar)
So if you are someone who has suffered from stomach issues, maybe it's time to try out a probiotic? Ya never know.