Probiotics are pills or drinks that have good bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. Good bacteria help boost the immune system and improve the overall health of the digestive system. Probiotics work by increasing the quantity of good bacteria occurring in the digestive system.
Probiotics are naturally present in foods like sauerkraut and yogurt. Increased health consciousness of the general population has led to a rise in the use of probiotic drinks and supplements. Intake of probiotics in adequate amounts is quite beneficial to the human health.
Pros of probiotics
Some of the health benefits of probiotics are as follows:
- Promote the health of the digestive system and regulate the immune system.
- Cause minimal side effects and hence can be safely consumed by people of all age groups.
- Stomach bugs, mild diarrhea, and other minor digestive problems in children can be relieved with probiotics. It also helps prevent stomach infections.
- Regulate bowel movements thereby alleviating and preventing bloating, indigestion, constipation, abdominal pain, and certain intestinal infections.
- Help alleviate and prevent flu and colds as well as minor cases of sinusitis, IBS, food/seasonal allergies, eczema, bronchitis, UTI, Crohn’s disease, stress, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Probiotics help achieve faster recovery from ailments. For example, the intake of probiotics by infants can reduce the duration of diarrhea by 2 to 3 days.
- Help decrease the risk to development of certain kinds of malignant tumors and cancers, particularly colon cancer.
- Prevent fungal and other pathogenic attacks of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory passageways, and vagina, etc.
- Breastfeeding women who are currently taking antibiotics can give probiotics to infants to offset any antibiotic-associated side effects in infants.
- Improvement in digestive and overall health will subsequently lead to enhancement of the skin quality.
- Instances of diarrhea caused due to intake of antibiotics can be reduced via consumption of probiotics.
Cons of Probiotics
The varied beneficial effects of probiotics have not been validated by extensive studies and research. It is therefore best to consult a doctor before starting out on a specific dosage of probiotics. It is also best to consult a doctor before offering probiotics to newborns, especially those who are younger than 2 months.
It appears true that probiotics have rarely resulted in side effects. Some people have however complained of stomach upset, gas, general discomfort, and bloating. Decreasing the dosage or changing the brand of probiotics usually alleviates these problems in such cases.
In some rare cases, people with a weakened immune system, severe underlying conditions, and central venous line may suffer from bacterial infections after the intake of probiotics.
Things with Probiotics
Some foods and drinks containing probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, honey, buttermilk, unpasteurized pickles, apple cider vinegar, cottage cheese, idli, cultured sour cream and butter, probiotic hummus, natto, kim chi, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, dosa, miso, probiotic chocolates, ice creams, chlorella, blue-green algae, and other ocean-based plants.
Other Facts About Probiotics
Different probiotic brands have different standards of CFUs or colony-forming units. A probiotic with 1 to 2 million CFUs is ideal daily dosage. Patients on antibiotic therapy may opt for 1 probiotic pill with 10 million CFUs. Check the label to see if the bacteria are freeze-dried or alive and also verify the instructions of use and storage. However, always consult a doctor for further information about dosage.
If you have further concerns about probiotics, you can ask any medical question for free on www.askthedoctor.com, where our team of certified physicians are there to happily answer your query.