Should You Take Probiotics?

Probiotics are a type of bacteria that many consider friendly or good bacteria. These bacteria live in our body and assist with many functions including helping with our digestion and defending our body from infections. Probiotics are able to enter our body naturally. Prebiotics are different from probiotics because they are pills that contain food for your probiotics to grow. There are many studies that have been conducted on numerous different probiotics and their benefits for the body. Researchers believe probiotics work in a few different ways. One way is by maintaining a healthy bacteria community within your digestive tract. Taking antibiotics can lower the amount of good bacteria in your stomach, so there is reason to believe that probiotics during infections can help. Probiotics can also prevent diarrhea and other unpleasant side effects in patients with certain diseases and in those taking antibiotics. Studies have been done to see if there is a benefit for stomach infections, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and allergies. Probiotics are also thought to boost your immune system.

There are a few different types of probiotics that are available. Lactobacillus acidophilus (Bacid) is the most common type of probiotic strain that helps boost your immune system and can help patients who are lactose-intolerant with digestion. Bifidobacterium bifidum (VSL #3) is similar in effect to Lactobacillus acidophilus because it helps with digestion, including irritable bowel syndrome. It may protect against certain infections as well. Saccharomyces boulardii (Florastor) is another common probiotic that can be used for restoration of healthy intestinal bacteria for antibiotic use. There are also many foods that contain probiotics that can be part of a healthy diet with a possible probiotic benefit. Any food with active cultures in them means they contain probiotics. This includes yogurt, miso, cheeses, pickles, fermented and fortified milk and more. If you are able to tolerate these foods, many of them can be part of your healthy diet with no harm with a probiotic benefits. These foods can possibly help maintain healthy digestion, prevent diarrhea, reduce allergies and prevent infections, but they definitely can be part of a healthy diet. These foods can be an easy way to add probiotics into your diet.

This content was originally provided by Joseph Becker, Pharm.D. Candidate 2020