There is a lot of conflicting information out there about what are probiotics used for, and therefore, it can be hard to know what benefit they offer.
Probiotics have been shown in numerous studies to help with a variety of health issues, but many people don’t know how they work or why they should take them.
This guide will give you the facts you need so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not probiotics are right for you.
We’ll also cover some common misconceptions about these supplements and answer questions like “how long do I need to take them?” and “what happens if I stop taking them?”.
The first thing we’re going to talk about is what exactly probiotics are – this term gets thrown around a lot when discussing gut health, but most people aren’t sure exactly what it means.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are known as “friendly” bacteria because they help keep your digestive system healthy and also play an important role in your overall health. Probiotics can be found in certain foods and supplements.
You can also get them from other people as part of a nasal spray (known as “the sniff”).
However, most experts believe that it’s best to get them from food or supplements, because you may not be able to tell exactly what strain of probiotic bacteria you’re getting when it comes in the form of a nasal spray.
Probiotics are used for several digestive disorders. People who have lactose intolerance (when they can’t digest a type of sugar found in milk) may be able to use probiotics to help digest the sugar.
Other digestive disorders that may be helped with probiotics include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection.
Probiotics are also used for a wide range of other conditions, such as vaginal infections, eczema, and hay fever.
Do probiotics work?
The two main types of bacteria found in our guts are “good” bacteria, called probiotics, and “bad” bacteria called pathogens.
Researchers have reported that people with lactose intolerance have less good gut bacteria than healthy people.
However, it’s not clear if these changes cause problems. Studies have found that people with lactose intolerance might also have a lower number of good bacteria from the Bifidobacterium family in their guts, as well as more pathogens from the Clostridium family.
This suggests that taking probiotics to increase levels of good bacteria could help treat their lactose intolerance.
The best scientific evidence that probiotics are effective comes from studies of certain gut disorders, such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and C. difficile infection, both caused by pathogens.
There is also some evidence that probiotics may prevent AAD or infection when people take antibiotics to treat other conditions.
For example, it has been shown that giving a probiotic along with antibiotics decreases the risk of AAD.
However, people who are taking probiotics for this purpose should keep in mind that antibiotics will also kill some healthy bacteria present at the time of treatment. This can result in temporary side effects such as gas and diarrhea.
What are probiotics used to treat?
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in our gut and help keep us healthy. They can be taken as a supplement or consumed through certain foods.
Probiotics have been shown to improve digestive health, fight off infections, and boost immunity.
There is also evidence that they may play a role in weight management and cognitive function.
The best probiotic strains for different purposes include Lactobacillus acidophilus (digestion), Bifidobacterium lactis (digestive support), Streptococcus thermophiles (preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea) Bacillus coagulans (improves digestion).
Should I take a probiotic every day?
Yes, if you’re taking a high-quality supplement every day. Probiotics are bacteria that have health benefits in the body when they are present in large numbers.
They are most often used to treat digestive disorders or conditions, yet research suggests they may also be useful for helping with weight loss and reducing blood pressure.
What benefit do probiotics have?
There are hundreds of strains of bacteria that have been associated with health benefits.
Probiotics are often used to treat digestive disorders, yet research suggests they may also be useful for helping with weight loss and reducing blood pressure.
For example, a review of high-quality studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that probiotics may help people lose weight.
Another review, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that taking probiotics each day helps prevent high blood pressure.
How many strains do I need?
In general, probiotic supplements have 1 billion to 5 billion bacteria per serving. Ideally, look for a product with 2-5 bacterial strains at the very least.
How long do I need to take probiotics?
Studies have shown that a daily intake of probiotics is most effective. Taking a specific strain for a shorter period only helps the colonization process, but does not help improve symptoms or boost immunity as effectively as regular intakes do.
For example, studies indicate that lactobacillus can improve symptoms of allergies and eczema even after it has been discontinued.
What happens if I stop taking probiotics?
The good microorganisms generally don’t “overgrow” the intestine within a few days, but they die down gradually after you stop taking them.
If you already have microbial imbalances in your gut, e.g. due to antibiotic use or food poisoning, it can take some time for these to re-balance themselves again after stopping probiotics.
It’s important to give your body time to get used to new bacteria before expecting major changes. The low pH of the stomach is a natural barrier and probiotics will not be able to fight off harmful bacteria on their own.
Once you stop taking them, it may take some time for your microbiome to return to its original state.
However, once you begin feeding your body with nutritious foods on a regular basis, it should only take weeks or months before you see results.
With probiotics being one of the most popular supplements on the market, it comes as no surprise that it can be confusing to know which ones to take and what they are best for.
Whilst they are used for a host of health conditions, it is always best to seek professional advice first and to cautiously take them until you see the effects on your health.
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