Probiotics: What are they and exactly what can they do for you? Probiotics are various strains of “good” bacteria that are normally found throughout your body, especially in your digestive tract. There have been numerous research articles published recently on how these “good” bacteria can help with many of the aliments that are plaguing America today, such as irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal infections, cold and flu, eczema and even vaginal and urinary tract infections. Probiotics have also been shown to improve your immunity and help you recover faster from infections. A small study in Sweden in 2005, found that a group of employees who were given the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri missed less work due to respiratory or gastrointestinal illness than did employees who were not given the probiotic.
Under normal conditions there is appropriate balance of “bad” bacteria and “good” bacteria in our bodies and we are able to stay healthy. However sometimes that delicate balance is interrupted and the “good” bacteria are taken over. It is then necessary to replenish the stocks. The most common usage of probiotics is for intestinal infection that may or may not have come on after a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics you take to get rid of an infection not only kill the bad bacteria in your system but they can also wipe out the good bacteria. Thus you are not able to digest your food properly and it can result in diarrhea. Taking probiotics has been shown to dramatically reduce the duration of intestinal infections in both adults and children. The same thing goes for the dreaded travelers’ diarrhea. When you travel to a new country you are exposed to many new cultures of bacteria that your body is not used to. Many travelers, myself included, sing the praises of probiotics.
There are many foods on the market today that claim to provide these good bacteria. Unfortunately most of the time the actual amount of bacteria that they contain is so minuscule that they really don’t provide any benefit. So although yogurt is good for you and does contain probiotics(depending on the brand), generally it is only a small amount of a couple of strains. If you are eating a flavored yogurt, the sugar in the product may reduce the bacteria’s effectiveness even more. On top of that, not all bacteria are created equal. For instance the strain that helps with irritable bowel, Bifidobacterium infantis, may not be as beneficial for eczema as Lactobacillus rhamnosus. So when looking for a probiotic supplement you want to make sure that you are choosing the right strand or a product that contains many different strands. The supplement that we recommend is a capsule that contains 16 different strains of bacteria including those most important for helping with many of the problems listed above.
So the next time you find yourself suffering with an upset stomach, a respiratory or other infection that you just can’t seem to shake, consider replenishing your body with some of the good bacteria that it has been deprived of and give your body a fighting chance!