boston-130In the past few years, more and more medical professionals are starting to tout the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics may not be well understood by the common public, but many health care workers are starting to realize that they play a huge role in the body’s function. This simple substance can greatly affect digestive and overall health.

What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are a wide range of different microorganism that live primarily in the gastrointestinal system. Some people are disturbed by the thought of live bacteria and yeasts living within their body, but the reality is that some of these microorganisms are extremely helpful. Bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium actually help the human body to carry out functions like digesting food. Instead of stealing nutrition or making you sick, these helpful little bacteria can boost your help. Some probiotic microorganisms usually reside in your stomach and intestines naturally. However, you can also boost probiotic populations by eating foods that contain them. Most foods with probiotics are foods that are made through fermentation. Probiotic foods are frequently found in yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha.

How Do Probiotics Affect the Body?
Probiotics affect the body in a wide range of ways. Since they mostly reside in the stomach and intestines, it is no surprise that most probiotics help with digestive health. They help to ease symptoms for people with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease. Even patients who do not have a chronic gastrointestinal illness have less bloating, gas, bowel movement issues, and upset stomachs when they use probiotics. Since probiotics affect the way people digest food, there is some evidence that they may help to prevent obesity and diabetes. Some research also suggests that probiotics help to fight off harmful organisms that are ingested, so they can reduce instances of the common cold, yeast infections, and other mild illnesses.

Do You Really Need to Take Probiotics?
Probiotics might seem beneficial, but many people mistakenly think that they will be fine without probiotics. Probiotics are particularly important for patients who have been taking antibiotics or suffering from bouts of diarrhea, because those conditions decimate local probiotic populations. It is always a good idea to increase probiotic levels after an illness that could have decreased probiotic levels in the body. Without probiotics, people have trouble digesting food and avoiding overgrowth of harmful bacteria and fungi in the body. Having consistently low probiotic levels can lead to more issues over time. The only reason to avoid probiotics is if you have an immune system disorder that could be triggered by probiotic ingestion. It is always wise to talk to your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.

Now that you know the importance of probiotics, you will be relieved to realize that they are very easy to add to your diet. Simple steps like adding some yogurt to a breakfast smoothie or topping a hot dog with sauerkraut can greatly boost overall health. People who do not like most foods with probiotics, can just take a supplement pill to ensure that they get enough. Making this minor change to a person’s daily diet can have a huge impact on their health!