Put simply, probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in our bodies. In recent years, physicians and other health experts have touted probiotic supplements as helpful for our digestive systems, urinary health, and female health. Anyone keeping up with the latest health news, however, has likely heard the buzz about probiotics not meeting all the hype. So if you are feeling confused about the pros and cons of probiotics, you are not alone.
The Basics of Probiotics
Here’s what we know: Most good and bad bacteria live in or travel through our gastrointestinal tract, which is also the location of around 70 to 80 percent of our immune system. Things like stress, travel, sleep deprivation, and poor nutrition can throw our systems off track. We need to maintain healthy amounts of good bacteria to help fight off bad bacteria and help our bodies manufacture essential vitamins. We may increase good bacteria by ingesting probiotic foods or supplements with live bacteria.
Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and other fermented items may be good choices for adding probiotics to a healthy diet. Health food stores, drug stores, grocery stores, and even convenience store shelves today are also full of other live-bacteria options including juices, gummies, and pill supplements.
Bacteria Strains and Studies
Bacteria strains like Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium have been found to be key to digestive health, but probiotic formulations are also available with strains like Lactobacillus Rhamnosusto support urinary health as well other strain variations for female health.
Unfortunately, recent in-depth studies suggest that some over-the-counter probiotics may do very little. In some cases, the use of probiotics delayed the body’s recovery of normal bacteria after taking antibiotics. These findings contradict the countless doctors that have been recommending probiotics to help restore gut flora for patients prescribed antibiotics.
Long story short, there is still plenty of research to do on balancing out microbes in the body. In fact, there is talk of personalized pills of bacteria to help individuals recreate their own normal bacteria, but that may be years away for patients. For now, we suggest discussing your options with your physician to determine if probiotics fit into your healthy lifestyle.