Probiotics are living microorganisms such as bacteria and yeasts that can help you in a variety of ways when you add them to your body.
Generally the bacteria that you consume either in food or in supplements is bacteria and yeast.
There are hundreds of different kinds of bacteria naturally occurring in your gastrointestinal tract and throughout your entire body that actually aid in digestion and work to keep you healthy by destroying bad bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that can make you sick.
Sources of Probiotics
Sources of probiotics include fermented dairy products such as yogurt and buttermilk as well as miso, sauerkraut, and even many micro-brewed beers. Some juices on the market today also contain probiotics as do many soy products.
Many of these products have probiotics in them naturally, but some have them added either as a supplement or, as is the case with the beer, they are products of the fermenting process.
Another source is via supplements. These are available in capsules, powders and tablets and may be easier for some people to take, especially those who are lactose-intolerant or allergic to milk.
Sometimes the balance of the good bacteria in your gut becomes upset. This is caused either by the use of antibiotics which kills pretty much everything indiscriminately or when you get a really bad infection or illness that kills all of the good bacteria in your gut.
These include such illnesses as respiratory or stomach infections such as the flu. Some signs that you may be lacking good bacteria include gas and bloating.
Benefits of Probiotics
Some researchers suspect that not only do probiotics keep your gut healthy and active, they also help keep you immune system functioning properly.
This is suspected because there are cells in your digestive tract that are connected with your immune system.
There is currently research being done to determine whether or not probiotics could aid in such illnesses and disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, tooth decay, vaginal infections, skin infections, diarrhea, ulcers and respiratory and stomach infections.
As yet there is no definitive evidence but it is known beyond a shadow of a doubt that when your internal balance of good bacteria is disrupted, you can get sick.
Research is even being conducted on the effects of probiotics on children as a way to treat illness-related diarrhea and gastroenteritis but though the studies are promising, there isn’t enough evidence yet to say conclusively that probiotics work for these.
It does seem to make sense though, that if your good bacteria keeps you healthy, then you would benefit from replacing it if it is depleted.
As more is learned about the body, the desire for probiotics has increased exponentially as has research on the topic. Though they have existed since man started making food, there was never the understanding of function that we have today.
People now use probiotics supplements as a proactive alternative medicine to prevent disease and illness instead of waiting for them to occur.
The bottom line about probiotics is that they are not just a passing fad and preliminary research shows promise. Since they are harmless, natural and inexpensive, they can’t hurt and they certainly may help.