Probiotics are small organisms that help maintain the natural balance of other organism in the digestive tract and intestines. Probiotics may be a safe and natural approach to defending your body against unwanted bacteria that can cause microbial infections. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is the lactic acid bacteria.
A human’s digestive tract ranges from 25-35 feet and houses over 400 species of bacteria. In total there are over a 100 billion organisms in our digestive tract. A person taking antibiotics is equivalent to pouring bleach into a fish tank to kill an overgrowth of algae. The bleach not only kills the algae but everything else that is present in that environment. It is necessary for people taking antibiotics to alternate with Probiotics because antibiotics kill beneficial bacteria along with the bacteria causing the illness.
In addition to supplements, probiotics can be found in such foods as yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, some juices and soy drinks. Dannon’s Activia yogurt, for instance, is an example of a probiotic food.
Probiotic Supplements Support a Healthy Digestive System and Help to fight off infections which can lead to serious illness. More people are starting to use probiotics daily in order maintain regular bowel movements and cleanse their digestive system. Researchers are studying whether probiotics taken as foods or supplements can help treat or prevent illness. There is encouraging evidence that probiotics may help:
- Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Shorten the duration of intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat inflammation following colon surgery (pouchitis)
- Prevent eczema in children
Some researchers believe probiotics may improve general health. A small 2005 study in Sweden, for instance, found that a group of employees who were given the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri missed less work due to respiratory or gastrointestinal illness than did employees who were not given the probiotic.
More research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of probiotics. As with any dietary or herbal supplement, consult your doctor before starting any new treatment.