Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that occur naturally within the human body, especially the digestive tract. They can also be found in some foods and supplements. Probiotics help keep the gut healthy and are thus often described as “good” or “helpful” bacteria.
What Do Probiotics Do?
A healthy, properly working digestive tract absorbs nutrients and filters out potential hazards like toxins, harmful bacteria and waste products. Probiotics both help move food through the digestive tract and filter out anything harmful. They are often used to treat various health problems affecting the gut like different types of diarrhea, IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They are especially effective at relieving the bloating and abdominal pain in IBS. Some probiotics may also be useful in treating ulcerative colitis.
Probiotics also help maintain balance within the immune system. By doing so, they decrease the likelihood of people developing allergies or autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Some research has indicated that probiotics can be used to treat ailments that don’t involve the digestive system. Among them are eczema and other skin conditions, allergies, colds, and ailments involving the vagina and urinary tract. Probiotics may also help prevent obesity and both major types of diabetes.
Types of Probiotics
Lactobacillus is believed to be the most common probiotic, and it can be found in fermented foods like yogurt. There are over 50 different strains, and they can help people with diarrhea, and they may also help people who are lactose intolerant. They may also be useful in treating some skin disorders and preventing respiratory infections.
Bifidobacteria occur in some dairy products, and there are over 30 species. They make up most of the good bacteria in the colon, and they can ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Saccharomyces boulardii is the only probiotic that’s a yeast. It can be used to treat some types of diarrhea, and it may be helpful against acne.
Streptococcus thermophilus produces lots of lactase that is an enzyme. Some researchers, therefore, believe that it can prevent lactose intolerance.
Are Probiotics Safe?
Probiotics are safe for most people to use since they do not cause allergic reactions or side effects. People with severely compromised immune systems, however, need to be careful as some probiotic solutions may be contaminated with yeasts. Probiotics should not be given to premature babies for the same reason.
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