Probiotics- Pros and Cons
A few of my clients have been asking me lately about probiotics- what are they and what can they really do for you. Well- if you eat yogurt, you’re already taking one kind of probiotic. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system.
Most think bacteria is a bad thing, but our bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are considered good bacteria because they keep your gut healthy by helping food move through your system.
By the end of next year, the global sales of probiotics are expected to top $42 billion- that’s how popular they’ve become. Probiotics can come in tablet, capsule, powder, lozenge and gum form, and also in foods like yogurt.
Doctors often suggest patients take probiotics to help with digestive problems. And because they’ve become so popular, you can even find probiotics in chocolate.
How do they work? Well, researchers are still trying to figure that out.
Here are some of the ways they may keep you healthy:
- When you lose “good” bacteria in your body, like after you take antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them.
- They can lower the amount of “bad” bacteria in your system.
- They can help balance out the “good” and “bad” bacteria.
Quite a few types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They have different benefits, but mostly come from two groups. Your doctor can tell you what might be best for you.
Lactobacillus. It’s in yogurt and other fermented goods. It’s probably the most common. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
There is also research that shows probiotics can help with non-stomach related problems, like:
- Eczema and other skin conditions.
- Urinary and vaginal health.
- Preventing allergies and colds.
- Oral health
Probiotics are regulated like food, not like medications. The FDA does not require the makers of probiotic supplements to prove their products are safe or that they work. So, that’s why it’s very important to talk to your doctor about the correct product and dose.
In general, probiotic foods and supplements are thought to be safe. But you could have mild side effects like an upset stomach; diarrhea, gas, and bloating for the first couple of days after you start them. It’s possible they could also trigger allergic reactions.
The bottom line is that probiotics could be very helpful in making you feel better and stronger. But, before you shell out the cash, ask your doctor whether putting “good” bacteria in your body is what’s best for you.