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Probiotics: Fact File

Probiotics: Fact File

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

How Do They Work?

  • When you lose "good" bacteria in your body, probiotics can help replace them.
  • They can lower the amount of "bad" bacteria in your system that can cause infections or other problems.
  • They can help balance your "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep your body working like it should.

What Do They Do?

Probiotics help move food through your gut. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions they treat are:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
  • Antibiotic-related diarrhea

There is also some research to show they ease the symptoms of non-stomach-related problems. For example, some people say they have helped with:

  • Skin conditions, like eczema
  • Urinary and vaginal health
  • Preventing allergies and colds
  • Oral health

The Bottom Line:

The early research on probiotics is promising; however don’t look to these friendly bacteria as a cure-all. And if you’re healthy, you probably don’t need them at all. If you think you might benefit from probiotics, be sure to check with your doctor first. While they may help with certain conditions, there could be more effective medical alternatives, and in some instances, probiotics might be a waste of money too.


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5 Months ago