Yes, probiotics really work
They are one of the most talked about health fads, but are probiotics really worth the hype or are they just another pricey supplement offering little health benefits?
While probiotics can be added to food and taken as pills, probiotics are actually already inside of the human body. These tiny bacteria reside in the gut and help with healthy digestion. They also boost your immune system by preventing harmful bacteria from attaching to the gut’s lining and growing there, experts explain.
“This in turn strengths the mucus in your intestines and helps to create a barrier against the infection,” says Dr. Anshu Chawla, a gastroenterologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.
In addition to boosting immunity, probiotics offer these health benefits, Dr. Chawla says:
- Promotes digestive health
- Regulates frequency of bowel movements and helps to relieve bloating from gas in individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Reduces gut inflammation for individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
- Reduces symptoms of travelers’ diarrhea
- Restores the gut to normal function after taking antibiotics
If you have walked past the probiotics section of a drug store, you probably noticed the vast number of choices available. Dr. Chawla recommends that when you are selecting a probiotic you should start by looking at the label and making sure you are choosing one that meets the following criteria:
- Created by a well-established brand
- The product has been tested and studied
- Includes Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium
“While probiotics are generally safe, talk to your doctor before using them,” adds Dr. Chawla.
In addition to pills and powders, probiotics can also be found in live-cultured yogurt, fermented vegetables including sauerkraut and kimchi, Kefir and dark chocolate.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.