What are probiotics?
Probiotics are a good form of bacteria that helps maintain the natural microflora in the intestines.
The digestive system is home to more than 500 different bacterial species that keeps our intestinal lining healthy and assists in breaking down food. These beneficial organisms are believed to help regulate a healthy immune response.
Researchers believe that some digestive disorders occur when the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines becomes disturbed. This can be the case when taking antibiotics. Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the intestines. There’s also evidence that probiotics assist in maintaining a strong immune system. “
Probiotics May Benefit an Array of Ailments
Although evidence is still being gathered, researchers say there is enough data to rate the effectiveness of probiotics for several specific illnesses. In 2008, a panel of experts at Yale University reviewed the latest findings. They concluded that probiotics are most effective for:
Acute childhood diarrhea
Preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea
Preventing pouchitis, an intestinal inflammation that can follow serious intestinal surgery
Regulating immune response
Treating and preventing eczema associated with cow’s milk allergy
Irritable bowel syndrome
Urinary Tract Infections
The Yale University panel of experts concluded that probiotics may be helpful in other ways, although the evidence so far is less convincing. These include:
Easing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Preventing childhood diarrhea
Treating diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile bacteria, which can infect the colon
Probiotics may also be useful in unexpected ways. A study published in 2010 suggests that probiotics may decrease the risk of common childhood problems such as ear infections, strep throat, colds, and diarrheal illness. The study included 638 children aged 3 to 6 in day care centers/schools. The children who drank a yogurt drink containing a probiotic were 19% less likely to come down with a common infection.
Probiotics come in many forms, including powders, tablets and capsules. The form you take them in doesn’t matter, experts say, as long as it contains enough live organisms to begin growing in the intestines. Experts say the effective dose varies widely, from as little as 50 million to as many as 1 trillion live cells per dose.
Choose products from well-known companies, especially those that have been tested in research studies. Reliable products should indicate the name of the precise probiotic organisms they contain, as well as how many organisms a single dose provides. Many products also provide information on the scientific studies they use for their recommendations.