Flip through any magazine or walk down the aisles in any supermarket today,
and you will see ads, labels and displays for foods and supplements promoting
probiotics. We are told these are good for us, but what exactly are they
and do we need them to be healthy?
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are “good” bacteria and live cultures that are similar
to those that naturally live in the human gut. These live organisms benefit
the body by helping to balance or replenish the amount of good bacteria
that is in our gut, decrease bad bacteria that may cause infections, and
potentially improve health.
How Can Probiotics Help With My Health?
Probiotics may help to prevent and treat digestive issues. Some of the most
common uses of probiotics include treatment of:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Probiotics are most often used to improve digestive function and enhance
immunity. Some studies show they also may help manage other health conditions.
In addition to digestive issues and immune system benefits, research suggests
that probiotic bacteria can help with:
- Counteracting side effects of certain antibiotics
- Reducing risk of some common infectious diseases
- Managing lactose intolerance.
Some studies also show encouraging evidence that probiotics also may help with:
- Prevention and treatment of vaginal yeast infections
- Prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections
- Prevention and treatment of skin infections in children, such as eczema
- Prevention of allergies
- Reduction of recurrence of bladder cancer.
The physicians of
Magnolia Obstetrics & Gynecology in
Walkerhave seen the benefit of using probiotics to treat patients for vaginal
“Prescribing yogurt is a common practice in the prevention of yeast
infections,” affirms Obstetrician and Gynecologist
Brianne Anderson, MD. “The live yogurt cultures help to maintain the balance of any yeast
organisms in an effort to prevent common infections, like those that can
occur with certain antibiotics."
What Foods Contain Probiotics?
Probiotics are naturally found in many foods including:
- Soft cheeses
- Many types of pickles
- Some juices and soy drinks
- Some milks, including buttermilk, fermented and unfermented milk.
Your health care provider can advise you on what foods may be helpful to
you, or they may recommend a dietary supplement along with a well-balanced,
healthy diet. Dietary supplement probiotics are available in tablet, capsule,
powder or liquid forms and can be found at supermarkets, pharmacies and
health food stores. These supplements each contain a specific type of
probiotic, so be sure to check with your health care provider to find
the one that is best for your individual health issues.
What About Prebiotics?
Prebiotics help feed the natural probiotics in our bodies. These are natural,
non-digestible food ingredients that are found in bananas, onions, garlic,
leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods. Prebiotics
and probiotics work hand-in-hand to help keep the body healthy and functioning properly.
To decide if probiotics or prebiotics are right for you, talk with your
health care provider. If you need to establish a relationship with a personal
health care provider, call (985) 230-7850 or click
Find A Physician to learn more about
North Oaks Physician Group’s exceptional team and practice locations throughout Tangipahoa
and Livingston Parishes.