Probiotics have been the “it” health supplement for the past couple of years. From commercials to the yogurt aisle, mainstream advertising for probiotics is everywhere. Many of the clients on our diet program come to us with questions about probiotic use. Here are the most frequently asked questions about what probiotics can do for you.
What exactly are probiotics?
Probiotics are helpful bacteria that naturally live in the intestinal tract and provide numerous health benefits. They aid in digestion, support the immune system, fight off harmful bacteria, and provide various health benefits. This bacterium is found in the most concentrated amounts in foods like yogurt, milk kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and tempeh.
What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics are fueled by prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates. Probiotics are found in dairy products with live cultures, such as yogurt. Prebiotics are commonly found in foods such as whole grains, dandelion greens, garlic, onion, asparagus, and bananas. Supplements known as synbiotics combine both probiotics and prebiotics.
I do not have gastrointestinal problems. Are probiotics still beneficial?
Absolutely. Although probiotics have been heavily marketed to those with digestive issues, there are many other health benefits that come with regular probiotic intake.
What health concerns can probiotics help?
Probiotics can help with health issues including: Allergies, chronic digestive issues (acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers), fatigue, food sensitivities, foot problems (such as circulation), immune system problems (frequent colds, flu), insomnia, joint pain and inflammation, menstrual and menopausal complaints, skin problems (acne, eczema), oral health (halitosis and gum disease), urinary tract health, and chronic yeast problems.
Is there a difference between a probiotic pill and live cultures?
The main difference is not about the mode of administration but more about the specific probiotic strain. If you do not care for the foods rich in probiotics or they do not work with our diet program, you can try a powder, liquid, or pill format.
Which are best for me?
Probiotics come in many different varieties and are classified by their genus, species, and strain. The two most common strains are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Each strain works differently in the body to help different health issues. Be sure to do your research on what probiotic has been proven to help your specific health concerns. As always, please contact your physician with any questions about adding supplements to your diet program. If appropriate, your doctor will give you more information on the correct probiotic and dosage for your needs.