Say "bacteria" and most people immediately think of something that causes disease. So why do millions deliberately consume certain kinds of live bacteria in an effort to cure gastrointestinal disorders?
Because it works, at least according to several clinical trials and studies from highly respected health institutions.
And Methodist Health System agrees, noting that more than 100 trillion bacteria live in the digestive system alone, helping the human body to function properly and stay healthy.
When your body's bacteria balance is off, health problems can develop. Taking probiotics has been shown to boost the immune system, keep skin healthy, help ease inflammatory bowel disease symptoms, reduce the frequency of respiratory infections, and relieve diarrhea.
But if you have cancer or a compromised immune system, it's advised you not supplement with probiotics.
Probiotics naturally occur in some foods and can also be taken in pill form.
Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt; cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, and cottage cheese; kombucha; green peas; buttermilk; kimchi; olives; pickles; sauerkraut; tempeh; and miso.
Since probiotics can also be sold as dietary supplements, they are not tested and regulated like drugs are. So it's helpful to keep in mind that there's no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you're taking them for.
Always let your primary care provider know what you're doing, or ask their advice on how to work more probiotics into your life.