Health Benefits of Probiotics

    What Are Probiotics?

    Probiotics comes from two Greek words, one is “Pro” means promoting and “biotic” means life. Probiotics are often called as good bacteria which can benefit your health, especially your digestive system. Good bacteria are naturally found in your body. You can find probiotics in some foods and supplements.

    • When you lose “good” bacteria in your body (like after you take antibiotics, for example), probiotics can help replace them.
    • They can help balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep your body working like it should.

    Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits, but most come from two groups. Ask your doctor about which might best help you.

    • Lactobacillus:

    This may be the most common probiotics. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help with people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.

    • Bifidobacterium:

    You can also find it in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions.

    • Saccharomyces Boulardii:

    This is a yeast found in probiotics. It appears to help fight diarrhea and other digestive problems.

    The FDA regulates probiotics like foods, not like medications. Unlike drug companies, makers of probiotics supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or that they work. Ask your doctor for more information about the correct product and dose for you.

    In general, probiotics foods and supplements are thought to be safe for most people, though some people with immune system problems or other serious health conditions shouldn’t take them. Talk to your doctor first to make sure they’re OK for you. In some cases, mild side effects might include upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, and bloating for the first couple of days after you start them. They may also trigger allergic reactions. Stop taking them and talk to your doctor if you have problems.

    • BLOOD PRESSURE

    A 2014 study published in the journal Hypertension found that consuming probiotics for more than eight weeks could lower blood pressure, especially among individuals with higher readings. Although there are several different factors that could contribute to this link, these findings show that probiotic foods can help manage blood pressure levels.

    • URINARY TRACT INFECTION (UTI)

    Probiotics have been shown to be an effective remedy for this uncomfortable infection; one that’s unfortunately very common among women and often recurs. A UTI happens when bad bacteria attacks the urethra and can travel through to the bladder, resulting in an infection that causes a constant and intense need to urinate (although almost nothing comes out), burning when urinating, cloudy or odd-smelling urine, lower back pain, and fatigue.

    Although you usually need antibiotics to treat a UTI, studies have shown that probiotics can actually prevent these recurring infections.

    • BRAIN FUNCTION

    A UCLA study discovered that when women regularly ate yogurt containing probiotics, it affected their brain function, suggesting that probiotics nutritional benefits translate to good brain health as well. The study revealed that the change in bacterial activity in the stomach (caused by the probiotics) resulted in changes in brain activity.

    Although this is an area of study that still needs more research, these findings tell us that there is indeed a connection between what happens in your gut and what happens in your brain.

    • FEW MORE BENEFITS

    Probiotics help move food through your gut. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions they treat are

    Irritable bowel syndrome

    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

    Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)

    Antibiotic-related diarrhea

    There is also some research to show they help with problems in other parts of your body. For example, some people say they have helped with:

    Skin conditions, like eczema

    Urinary and vaginal health

    Preventing allergies and colds

    Oral health

    The FDA regulates probiotics like foods, not like medications. Unlike drug companies, makers of probiotics supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or that they work. Ask your doctor for more information about the correct product and dose for you.

    That being said, some probiotic foods are naturally going to be better than others. Here’s a rundown of the foods that will provide the best nutritional benefits

    • Plain yogurt
    • Pickles
    • Soy milk
    • Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
    • Kimchi (Korean vegetable dish)
    • Kefir (fermented milk beverage)
    • Miso (traditional Japanese ingredient made from fermented soybeans)
    • Kombucha tea
    • Tempeh (Indonesian patty made from fermented soybeans)
    • Natural Probiotic Supplements

    In addition to foods, you can also find natural probiotic supplements. Most of the probiotic supplements on the market contain the two common groups of probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, and are available in powder, capsule, or liquid form. The success of your supplements depends on which microbes it contains.

    Your best bet is to consult a health professional to find the probiotic supplements that best suit your needs.

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