If you have been to a health food store recently, you have probably seen a section of probiotics available for purchase. Probiotics are yeasts and live bacteria that are naturally found in the body and taken as a supplement to aid digestive health, and may also have health benefits beyond just your gut. You might be used to thinking of bacteria as a bad thing; however, our bodies host bacteria that are both good and bad for us. Probiotics are good bacteria. Since the 1990s, awareness of the powerful benefits of taking probiotics has grown, and now it is quite easy to find probiotics in a variety of products.
How They Work
Research is currently being conducted on exactly how probiotics work, but the general idea is that it helps your gut health in one of two ways. If you lose good bacteria in your body (such as after taking antibiotics), taking probiotics replaces them. Additionally, if your gut bacteria is imbalanced between good and bad bacteria, taking probiotics can restore your body to working order.
Types of Probiotics
While there are many different types of probiotics, they mostly come from two groups.
Lactobacillus is the probiotic that is most widely known. It is found in fermented foods such as yogurt or kombucha. There are different strains of lactobacillus, some that help with diarrhea, and some that can help people with lactose intolerance.
Bifidobacterium is also found in certain dairy products. It can help with a variety of digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Conditions They Treat
Probiotics can be helpful for a variety of health conditions because they help food to move through your digestive system. Currently, research studies are looking into which probiotics work best for which conditions. Digestive conditions treated by probiotics include:
- Diarrhea, whether from infection or from taking antibiotics
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Research suggests that probiotics may also be helpful for your body beyond your digestive system. Some studies suggest that probiotics can help with:
- Urinary health
- Oral health
- Some skin conditions
Using probiotics safely
Probiotics are regulated by the FDA as food, not drugs. This means that companies that manufacture probiotics do not have to prove that their products are effective or safe for consumption. Ask your doctor at our men’s health clinic to determine what brand and type of probiotics are best for your needs. You should also consult your doctor about whether or not probiotics are right for you at all. While probiotics are generally considered safe for most people to consume, certain people with immune system problems should not take them. Sometimes, mild side effects can occur, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomachaches when you initially begin taking them, and they can cause allergic reactions. Talk to your doctor if you begin to have any issues with probiotics.
If you have health concerns, whether about your digestive health or otherwise, our men’s health clinic can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!