Most people assume that all bacteria cause disease. This is why it sounds strange when someone suggests that it may be time to take probiotics. Probiotics are a supplement that introduce living bacteria and yeast to the body. As strange as it sounds, the bacteria and yeast combat a wide variety of ailments. And the truth of the matter is that a lot of our health problems stem from the gut; a healthier gut makes for an overall healthier body. Because of probiotics, certain individuals can lower the risk of infection, have digestion, and prevent some chronic diseases.
Individuals can take probiotics as supplements or consume them naturally through fermented foods. These include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, or even kombucha.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that the live bacteria in these foods can combat most of the gastrointestinal disorders we suffer from today.
What Probiotics Are Good For
Probiotics treat these specific ailments:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
- Pouchitis (a side effect of surgery that removes the colon)
- Eczema in children
- Crohn’s disease
- Recurrence of bladder cancer
- Vaginal infections
- Urinary tract infections
The most powerful probiotic benefits have been shown in individuals suffering from diarrhea. The bacteria called Lactobacillus GG helps to shorten the course of this ailment in infants and children. Data from studies is not complete (especially for adults) but scientists suggest that there is a strong correlation. There is no strong evidence for helping constipation just yet.
Health specialists recommend probiotic supplements for the other digestive orders, especially as a natural regimen when conventional medicine doesn’t do the trick.
Clinical trial results are mixed for Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, but some small studies suggest that certain probiotics may protect against recurring ulcerative colitis, and Pouchitis. Scientists need more data points to be certain which strains work best for these disorders.
Probiotics and Vaginal Health
The vagina is similar to our GI tract: it has a finely balanced ecosystem. Antibiotics, spermicides, and birth control pills all throw the ecosystem out of balance by creating an environment that’s too acidic. Usually, the Lactobacilli strains create a healthy acidic environment that is unfriendly toward harmful bacteria, but when imbalanced, women suffer from yeast infections, UTIs, and bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics can be used to restore the balance of healthy microflora.
Although there is not a lot of scientific evidence proving these benefits, many women eat yogurt or insert it straight into the vagina to treat yeast infections. Clinically, oral and vaginal administration of Lactobacilli is the most beneficial method for treating bacterial vaginosis.
Knowing When It’s Time to Take Probiotic Supplements
Some interesting benefits for probiotics include weight loss, improvement in mood, and even the formation of some vitamins. Some studies show that Lactobacillus in yogurt can help with weight loss and belly fat.
Most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, so testing and approval are not as rigorous as drugs. Always check the manufacturer and its health claims. Also, they are strain-specific and should be taken according to what ailment an individual is suffering from. The best time to take probiotics is 20 minutes after eating, the first thing in the morning and last thing before bedtime.
Proceed With Caution Before Taking Probiotics
Most individuals don’t experience side effects, but some common discomforts have been reported:
- Increased thirst
- Allergy-like symptoms
Constipation and increased thirst can occur when people take yeast-based probiotics.
In some people, amine-based food can cause headaches. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi contact biogenic amines; they form when these protein-containing foods are fermented.
Most of these side effects, if they occur at all, disappear after a few weeks of continued use. Tapering up is always the best to help adjust the body to probiotics.
Is It Your Time to Take Probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms that can provide great health benefits for individuals suffering from a wide variety of ailments. People can take them either as supplements or in naturally occurring fermented foods.
People should take probiotics with caution because when some consume it in large quantities, they can experience side effects. The most common of these are thirst, gas, bloating, and sometimes constipation.
Know when it’s time to take probiotics when medications and lifestyle changes are not enough. Whether it’s a supplement or food, if individuals consume it in the right amount, they can improve their quality of life.