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Probiotics or “friendly” bacteria provide a variety of benefits, especially within the digestive and immune systems. Probiotics found in food and dietary supplements mirror the activity of those found naturally in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics work to restore symbiosis between harmful and friendly bacteria in the gut, thereby promoting health and preventing the onset of disease 2.
More definitively, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine describe probiotics as live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host 2. Most probiotics are bacteria and function in the same capacity as those found naturally in the human gut. Most probiotic bacteria originate from two strains: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. However, there a number of different species within each strain. Each probiotic strain promotes optimal health to the host in a distinctly different manner.
- More definitively, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine describe probiotics as live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host 2.
- Most probiotics are bacteria and function in the same capacity as those found naturally in the human gut.
Should I Take a Probiotic Every Day?
The body is full of microorganisms; bacteria live in and on the skin, in the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory system and urinary tract. The microflora in each of these areas vary, therefore there is a difference in the bacterial organisms which populate them. Consequently, individuals have their own mixture of beneficial bacteria. Interactions between microorganisms and the body are crucial for health and well-being.
- The body is full of microorganisms; bacteria live in and on the skin, in the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory system and urinary tract.
- The microflora in each of these areas vary, therefore there is a difference in the bacterial organisms which populate them.
In the human body, there is a constant balancing act between friendly and harmful bacteria. This balance can be disrupted in two ways. The first is the use of antibiotics which kill the friendly bacteria along with the harmful bacteria in the gut. The presence of unfriendly microorganisms, such as disease-causing bacteria, yeast and fungi, can also upset the balance. Probiotics are used to restore symbiosis between the friendly and harmful bacteria. Probiotics have therefore been used to prevent and treat disorders of the digestive and immune systems.
- In the human body, there is a constant balancing act between friendly and harmful bacteria.
- Probiotics have therefore been used to prevent and treat disorders of the digestive and immune systems.
Side Effects of Culturelle
Probiotics not only enhance the digestion process, but also support the immune system. In the digestive system, probiotics treat diarrhea, vaginal yeast infections, eczema in children and irritable bowel syndrome; absorb and produce vitamins and minerals; and manage intestinal infections quickly. Probiotics promote immunity by reducing bladder cancer occurrence, increasing production of IgA antibodies, increase microphage and phagocytosis activity, and improve overall health 2.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, live microorganisms have long been used as probiotic agents without causing illness. However, the safe use of probiotics has not yet been thoroughly researched. More information is needed to scientifically document its safety, especially for the use by young children, elderly individuals, and people with compromised immune systems. Side effects associated with the use of probiotics include: flatulence, bloating, infection, unhealthy metabolic activity and the stimulation of the immune system. These side effects are rare, and if they occur, they tend to be mild.
- According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, live microorganisms have long been used as probiotic agents without causing illness.
- More information is needed to scientifically document its safety, especially for the use by young children, elderly individuals, and people with compromised immune systems.
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- NCCAM: Introduction to Probiotics
- Colon Health News: Purpose of Probiotics
- Mayo Clinic: Probiotics – Important for A Healthy Diet
- Liu L, Zhu G. Gut-Brain Axis and Mood Disorder. Front Psychiatry. 2018;9:223. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00223
- Markowiak P, Śliżewska K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):1021. doi:10.3390/nu9091021
- Mcfarland LV. Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea and the treatment of Clostridium difficile disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2006;101(4):812-22. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2006.00465.x
- Oak SJ, Jha R. The effects of probiotics in lactose intolerance: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(11):1675-1683. doi:10.1080/10408398.2018.1425977
- Upadrasta A, Madempudi RS. Probiotics and blood pressure: current insights. Integr Blood Press Control. 2016;9:33-42. doi:10.2147/IBPC.S73246
- Wang L, Guo MJ, Gao Q, et al. The effects of probiotics on total cholesterol: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(5):e9679. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000009679
- Didari T, Mozaffari S, Nikfar S, Abdollahi M. Effectiveness of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome: Updated systematic review with meta-analysis. World J Gastroenterol. 2015;21(10):3072-84. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i10.3072
- Kijmanawat A, Panburana P, Reutrakul S, Tangshewinsirikul C. Effects of probiotic supplements on insulin resistance in gestational diabetes mellitus: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. J Diabetes Investig. 2019;10(1):163-170. doi:10.1111/jdi.12863
- Hendler R, Zhang Y. Probiotics in the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer. Medicines (Basel). 2018;5(3):101. doi:10.3390/medicines5030101
- Su GL, Ko CW, Bercik P, Falck-Ytter Y, et al. AGA Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Role of Probiotics in the Management of Gastrointestinal Disorders. Gastroenterology. 2020 Aug;159(2):697-705. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.05.059.
- Govender M, Choonara YE, Kumar P, Du Toit LC, Van Vuuren S, Pillay V. A review of the advancements in probiotic delivery: Conventional vs. non-conventional formulations for intestinal flora supplementation. AAPS PharmSciTech. 2014;15(1):29-43. doi:10.1208/s12249-013-0027-1
- Stadlbauer V. Immunosuppression and probiotics: are they effective and safe? Benef Microbes. 2015;6(6):823-8. doi:10.3920/BM2015.0065
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Probiotics: In Depth.
- Iannitti T, Palmieri B. Therapeutical use of probiotic formulations in clinical practice. Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun 22. [Epub ahead of print]
Erica Wickham covers health, exercise and lifestyle topics for various websites. She completed an internship in dietetics and earned a Master of Science in dietetics from D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y. Wickham now serves as a registered dietitian.