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That Gut Feeling: How Probiotics Can Help

That Gut Feeling: How Probiotics Can Help

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
  • Diarrhea.

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 Hammond and Walkerhave seen the benefit of using probiotics to treat patients for vaginal yeast infections.

“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:

  • Miso
  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • 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.