Although many different kinds of bacteria cause harmful infections, some forms of bacteria are important for your health. Probiotics, either in dietary sources or supplements, contain beneficial microorganisms that help enhance the growth of healthy bacteria in your body. Taking a probiotic every day or at all may not be necessary for you; talk to your doctor before taking this supplement.
Probiotic foods and supplements contain live microorganisms. According to the National Center of Complementary and Alternative medicine, probiotics provide health benefits if you take them in the appropriate dosage. Most probiotics contain bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. Some foods, such as yogurt made with active cultures and tempeh, naturally contain probiotics, but these organisms can also be added to other types foods.
Bacteria and Health
The bacteria in probiotics are similar to the bacteria that naturally exist in different parts of the human body, including the digestive tract and vagina. The bacteria in your digestive tract help break down food particles, stimulate your immune system and crowd out potentially infectious bacteria. Vaginal bacteria helps prevent yeast infections by making the vagina more acidic, which makes it harder for Candida yeast to grow.
More research still needs to be done, but some probiotic supplements have many benefits. They prevent diarrhea, particularly if you have recently taken a course of antibiotics, which kills both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Other benefits reaped from daily probiotic usage include relief for the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, the prevention and treatment of eczema and reduced severity of viral infections.
The amount of bacteria in probiotic supplements varies, so follow the directions on the packaging when using these products. A typical dose of probiotics involves consuming a few billion live organisms each day. Probiotic bacteria don't typically cause infections and are safe for most people to use. However, you might need to avoid probiotics if you have a weakened immune system or serious intestinal problems; talk to your doctor before using these supplements.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Probiotics; 2008rel="nofollow"
- Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide; Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics; 2005rel="nofollow"
- MayoClinic.com; Probiotics---Important for a Healthy Diet?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; April 2010rel="nofollow"
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.