Probiotics Benefits and Side Effects


Probiotics - The Benefits and Potential Side EffectsWhat are Probiotics?

You may have heard of people taking probiotics for various reasons.  There are many probiotic health benefits and potentially a few side effects. If you are confused about what all the probiotic buzz is about read on to learn more about how these mirco-organisms can potentially help you.

The human body, and more specifically the digestive system, contains many micro-organisms.  These are commonly referred to as good bacteria and bad bacteria.  A correct balance between these two types of bacteria is essential for good health.

How Do They Work?

There are many different situations that can upset this balance, such as antibiotics, other medications, illness, diet, disease, stress, lack of sleep, and environment.

When the right balance of bacteria is not present in the body, people can experience many different adverse symptoms, such as bloating, muscle pain, fatigue, urinary tract infections, constipation and diarrhea.

The term probiotic comes from Latin and literally means promoting life. The Food and Drug Administration defines probiotics as live micro-organisms that can provide health benefits when taken in correct amounts.

When the balance is upset and the bad bacteria in the digestive system grows, probiotics can help restore the optimal balance and decrease or eliminate symptoms.

Many people are using probiotics in smoothies, shakes, and other health foods to help promote their own health on a regular basis.  They are even popular component in green drink powders.

Probiotics can be purchased at health food stores, pharmacies, and online.  They come in pill, powder, and liquid form.

What are the Benefits of Probiotics?

Probiotics restore the correct balance of bacteria in the gut.  This means that any gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas or diarrhea, can be decreased or eliminated by taking probiotics.  Clinical reviews show that study participants taking probiotics were 42 percent less likely to have diarrhea.

Probiotics can also increase immunity and help prevent against colds and other illnesses.  When the right balance of bad and good bacteria is present within the body, the immune system is stronger and more able to fight off foreign germs.

Probiotics can decrease bad cholesterol.  Recent research shows that probiotics can decease LDL levels.  It is believed that probiotics help break down the bile salts and make it less likely that they will be reabsorbed in the gut.

Probiotics promote better oral health.  Studies have shown that certain probiotics, such as Lactobacillus reuteri, can kill bacteria that causes tooth decay and that it can lessen the effects of gingivitis.

Probiotics can also decrease eczema.  The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published a study that showed babies who are at risk for developing eczema benefited from their own mothers consuming probiotics during the last few months of pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Potential Side Effects of Probiotics

Probiotics still need more scientific studies to be understood thoroughly.  Their benefits, risks, and side effects are not completely understood, especially in children, pregnancy, the elderly and people who have underlying diseases or immune system problems.

However, there are some known and suspected unwanted effects that people should be aware of.  They are generally mild and related to the digestive system, such as bloating or gas.  In certain individuals they could potentially cause and infection that would need medical treatment.

They can also overly stimulate the immune system.  For further information on probiotics and whether you may be at risk for unwanted effects when taking them, contact your physician.

Whether you want to promote your general health, eliminate painful or annoying gastrointestinal symptoms, or help decrease your cholesterol, probiotics may be of help to you.  There many benefits have helped millions of people live better and healthier lives.  They can be taken alone, or added into smoothies, shakes, or other foods.[hr]

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