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4 Benefits of Probiotics

There is always a buzz surrounding probiotics. And for good reason. Adding probiotics to a healthy diet is a great way to support gut health and aid in digestion.

Probiotics are microorganisms that are ingested to improve digestive health. They’re often called “good bacteria.” Probiotics compete with bad bacteria to improve digestion and support immune function.

The Benefits of Probiotics

In every healthy digestive system, there is a balance. Probiotics help to keep the digestive system in balance. There are many reasons a digestive system becomes unbalanced. These include illness, taking antibiotics, a poor diet, or an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Gastrointestinal problems can result from such an imbalance.

More research on probiotics is needed. However, there is evidence that:

  1. Probiotics can help prevent or treat diarrhea caused by infections or antibiotics.
  2. Probiotics can improve systems of irritable bowel syndrome.
  3. Probiotics can boost the immune system.
  4. Probiotics can reduce inflammation and allergies.

The Side Effects of Probiotics

Probiotics are safe for those who are healthy. If side effects occur, they are usually mild digestive issues, like gas. Just like before starting any new drug or supplement, you should talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic. This advice is especially important for those with suppressed immune systems. Serious complications, like infections, have been reported in some people.

Probiotics in Foods

You don’t necessarily need to take a supplement to get probiotics. Many foods contain them. Some foods that are rich in probiotics are:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Miso
  • Kimchee
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles

Choosing a Probiotic

Though there are many benefits of adding probiotics to your diet, there are many different kinds. Each has its own unique benefits just as your body has its unique needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation.

Before you begin taking probiotics, you’ll need to find the correct strain for your needs. A commonly used bacteria in probiotics is lactobacillus, but there are more than 120 different types of lactobacillus. Many are used as probiotics. But lactobacillus isn’t the only type of bacteria used in probiotics. There are other types of bacteria with different species. This makes for a lot of choices!

When deciding on a probiotic, research the digestive issue you want to address. Select a probiotic based on that condition.

After you purchase probiotics, make sure to store them correctly, refrigerating them if needed. Always check the expiration dates of your probiotics. Try foods and supplements to figure out which one meets your needs. Both are great ways to get probiotics, but supplements generally have a higher concentration.

Always, but especially while adding probiotics to your diet, eat a healthy diet rich in nutrients and high in fiber. Include many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Probiotics need fiber to grow and keep your gut healthy and balanced.

Research on probiotics is growing, and the current literature supports the use of probiotics to treat a variety of conditions within digestive health.

Are you curious about probiotics? Do you have questions about your overall digestive health? Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio can help. Schedule an appointment today.

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