The benefits of probiotics are touted often these days, but what are they and how are they helpful? If you don’t know about probiotics, here’s a quick guide to help you learn what they are how they are beneficial, and how you should use them properly.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria and/or yeast that improve your general health. They are live organisms that are found in both supplements and foods. If it makes you squeamish to think of ingesting a living being, consider that our bodies contain more than 500 different types of bacteria at any given time and these particular organisms are responsible for keeping the intestines healthy, helping your body digest food, and boosting the immune system.
How Do They Work?
Even though probiotics are said to be very helpful, the way they work isn’t exactly known. Many scientists and nutritionists say digestive disorders happen when the bacteria in your intestines becomes unbalanced. The friendly bacteria your body naturally contains can become disrupted after an illness, infection, or after taking antibiotics for any reason. Probiotics are thought to work by re-balancing the bacteria in the digestive tract, which helps it work properly.
Is It Truly Beneficial?
Probiotics need to be ingested daily to work, since they live in the digestive tract and your body rids itself of them daily. Proponents of probiotics will say, though, that ingesting them daily is helpful and easy, so it is definitely worth it. It’s really up to you, though, if you believe probiotics can help you. Always consult a physician before starting probiotics, though, because the organisms can be harmful to people with compromised immune systems.
What are the Problems and Precautions?
Other than people with compromised immune systems, other people can become sick from probiotics, and some people have even died from ingesting too many of them. Although researchers have not been able to determine what illnesses preclude such issues, doctors can determine if you may be susceptible to the harmful of effects of probiotics.
Other information to suggests that patients with terminal cancer, acute pancreatitis, and kidney disease should not consume probiotics, and some people with these conditions have died from consuming probiotics because the body wasn’t able to properly digest the bacteria.
What are the Benefits?
The immune system is like a muscle- if you don’t challenge and use it, it will become weak. This doesn’t mean you should purposely infect yourself with a cold, but you can give your body something good and easy to work against to build your immune system safely. Probiotics will introduce small amounts of bacteria to your immune system, which will help to make it stronger.
What probiotics should you not ingest?
Do not ingest probiotic supplements that have artificial colors or flavorings, because the chemicals in these can be taken right into your immune system, through the probiotics. That can make them toxic to you. Do not eat probiotics that have not been tested and approved, as some can be too strong and others can make it hard for you to absorb nutrients, which will deplete your body and make you sick. Never eat raw foods that contain live probiotics unless you get them from a store and they are approved, or you could poison yourself with them or other things found in the food.
How should you integrate them into your diet?
Probiotics come in foods and supplements, like yogurt and dairy. If a food contains probiotics, it will be clearly listed on the packaging of the food. Supplements can be found at many health food stores, and you should choose one that is 100 percent natural for the best results. Eat the yogurt or other food daily. Follow all directions given on the supplement label or by your doctor.
Always consult a doctor before ingesting any probiotics to make sure that you can and to determine which will work best for you. These will be different for each person. If you are taking antibiotics, do not take probiotics until you are finished with the medication because they can interfere with the probiotics, or the probiotics can interfere with the medications.