Probiotics: What are they, and how can they improve your digestive health?
If you've been doing any research lately on things that are good for your health, chances are you've heard a lot about probiotics. Studies have been pouring out in the past few months that highlight the potential benefits of probiotic supplements and foods containing these healthy bacteria. Still, you may not know exactly what probiotics are and what they have to offer your body.
According to The Mayo Clinic, probiotics are a type of "good" bacteria. Now, this may sound confusing to many people who aren't used to thinking of bacteria as being a good thing. However, there is already a lot of good bacteria inside of you that helps fight off the kind of microbes that can cause illness.
In the gut, healthy bacteria has been shown to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, according to the Harvard Family Health Guide. Sometimes, the bacteria that is naturally present in the gut is not enough to fight off stomach problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or Chron's disease, which is where probiotics supplements come in.
Studies have shown that probiotics may help improve these digestive issues, which is important considering that stomach problems can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing.
"[Probioitcs] that are similar to microorganisms normally found in the human digestive tract - have been associated with an improvement in IBS symptoms compared with placebo. Studies suggest decreases in some patients’ abdominal pain, bloating and gas," according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Also, a recent study from the RAND corporation found that there is clear evidence that probiotics can help prevent or eliminate diarrhea caused by antibiotics. This is important, considering that diarrhea is a major side effect associated with antibiotics, and one of the reasons some people stop taking their medication.
"We found a clear beneficial effect of probiotics in preventing or treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea," said study co-author Sydne J. Newberry
The Mayo Clinic states that probiotics have also been shown to potentially improve vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections and reduce the severity of colds and flus.
Probiotics are generally considered safe, because they are already present in a healthy digestive system, according to the Harvard Guide. So if you regularly suffer from stomach problems, why wait? Take probiotic supplements to help regain control of your digestive system.