Everyone seems to be popping probiotics with the intentions of healing their gut, their mouth and everything in between. It’s manna from heaven. Wait, we are getting ahead of ourselves. What are the real health benefits of taking a probiotic? Just to set the stage, probiotics are live microorganisms that are suppose to help increase the good and beneficial microorganisms that naturally exist in our bodies. They can be taken as dietary supplements or through everyday food items.
At first glance, thinking about taking a supplement full of those useful little buggers might be a tough pill to swallow. We are a germaphobic society and have been taught to aim for a 99.9% bacteria free zone. Shout out to my hand sanitizing enthusiasts! Despite this “all bugs must die” mentality, there are certain microorganisms that we cannot live without. In fact, we have a very symbiotic relationship with many different types of bacteria including certain strains of Lactobacillus which helps us digest food.
We need to keep the advantageous microorganisms alive and taking a probiotic can help. Current research shows that probiotics can assist in improving irritable bowel syndrome and preventing diarrhea caused by infections and antibiotics. Antibiotics are trained to kill all bacteria: the good, the bad and the ugly. Killing the bad and the ugly is what we need them to do in order to keep us alive and healthy. However, when they kill the good bacteria as well our body suffers. By taking probiotics we can replenish the good microorganisms that our bodies need to function properly.
Despite the currently proven health benefits, you should do your research before running to your nearest drug store. It is important to remember that unlike all men, not all probiotics are created equal. For example, one strain of bacteria might fight against organisms that cause cavities but a completely different strain might help digest and process food. If you decide to take a supplement it is important to recognize which microorganism is in the supplement and how it might interact with the current needs of your body. A lot of research has been done about probiotics, but there is still a lot that we do not know and understand about the possible benefits and side effects. If taking a supplement doesn’t seem to agree with you, it is easy to find probiotics in everyday food like yogurt and most fruits and vegetables.