By: Dr. Jaclyn West Corcoran
Probiotics have become a hot topic in health related news but few people actually know why they should take one and how it can benefit their health. The intestines are full of good, friendly bacteria that actually keep us healthy, known as the normal or natural flora. These good bacteria are vital to development and function of the immune system; about 70% of your immune system is actually in your intestines.
Probiotics protect against microorganisms that cause illness and help with digestion and absorption of nutrients in the foods we eat. The idea of taking a probiotic supplement is similar to the idea of overseeding and fertilizing your yard in the spring. By overseeding you are building up the grass so there is no room for weeds to grow. The probiotic supplement adds additional good bacteria to help prevent bad bacteria from taking root in your body. The probiotic acts as fertilizer by giving the intestines what it needs to function at its best.
Antibiotic usage is the primary cause of decreased good bacteria in the body. An antibiotics job is to kill bacteria; it cannot determine good from bad so it wipes both out.
Probiotics have been found to help with irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), stomach ulcers, yeast infections, lactose intolerance, diarrhea, persistent infections, and increasing your overall health and well-being.
Everyone can benefit from taking a probiotic, including children. Many kids take repeated doses of antibiotics for ear infections, strep throat and other common illnesses throughout their childhood that can wipe out their good bacteria just as in an adult. Kids hopefully will not have irraitable bowel syndrome or stomach ulcers yet and keeping their intestines healthy from the start may help prevent them from ever being diagnosed with it.
Probiotics can be found in many dairy products but most may not have enough of the microorganisms in it. Supplements can be found at health food stores, vitamin stores and at health care offices that sell vitamins. If you have any questions, you should contact your healthcare professional.