Are Probiotics Good for You?

Updated on July 6, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

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Gut Bacteria

There are trillions of bacteria in your body. They are found in your gut and they are paired with other organisms, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. This is known as the microbiota, or the microbiome.

Each person’s bacteria is unique to them as it is determined by diet, lifestyle and partially by your mother’s microbiota. There are almost two million genes living in your gut and there are from three hundred to five hundred different types of these genes. These genes line the entire digestive system but the bulk live in your intestines and colon.

These genes help you process food, affecting everything,which includes your metabolism, your immune system and your mood. These genes may be tied to a risk of some diseases, including obesity, diabetes, colon cancer and depression.

Probiotic Facts

Probiotics are actually live microorganisms found in yogurt, sauerkraut and other fermented food, which is supposed to maintain good bacteria (the normal microflora) in the digestive system. You may also buy probiotic pills in any drug store or health food store. You can also make your own probiotic supplement. Kombucha is a popular drink that is manufactured by several companies, which is supposed to be loaded with probiotics.

Probiotics are thought to have several health benefits but not all doctors agree. When you take an antibiotic it kills the good bacteria in your digestive system. Probiotics are helpful in restoring the natural bacteria in your system.

There are also prebiotics in your system, which primarily comes from high fiber foods. The prebiotics are food for the microflora in your system. They also help balance the microorganisms. In addition to the whole grains, prebiotics are also found in greens, onion, bananas, garlic, artichokes and soybeans. Your body is unable to digest prebiotics.

Probiotic Bacteria

There are several types of probiotics and some of them are:

  • Lactobacillus - the most common type, found in yogurt and other fermented foods
  • Bifidobacterium - found in dairy products, yogurt and fermented foods
  • Saccharomyces boulardii - a yeast found in probiotic

The lactobacillus (120 species with at least 12 used in supplements) can help with diarrhea and those that are lactose intolerant. Saccharomyces boulardii will ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Source

Probiotics Use for These Diseases

Probiotics will help several types of digestive problems, including:

  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diarrhea that is caused by antibiotics
  • H. pylori (cause of stomach ulcers)
  • Infectious diarrhea (caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites)

They may may also help other areas of the body, including:

  • Various skins conditions, such as eczema
  • Urinary infections and vaginal health
  • May prevent colds and allergies
  • Improved oral health

There is a great deal of research into probiotics although some doctors do not think probiotics are helpful. In addition, not all probiotics are the same and obviously different bacteria will affect your body differently. Research has shown that probiotic therapy is useful in the treatment for diarrhea, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Best Probiotics in 2019

When to Take Your Probiotics

If you eat fermented food should you still take probiotic pills? Doctors have different opinions about this question also. The climate where these foods are grown is probably not as good as it was a few decades ago. There are too many pesticides and herbicides being used, which makes the soil become sterile. Glyphosates are a herbicide that was patented as an antibiotic and it reduces the beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

Some doctors say to take the probiotic pills on an empty stomach and others say take them with a meal. I think it is a good idea to take them any time that fits on your schedule.

Healthy Eating Suggestions

In addition to eating fermented food, there are some other tips for eating healthy, which include:

  • Eliminate sugar as much as possible as sugar is fuel for yeast.
  • Eat organic food as much as possible to reduce exposure to glyphosates and antibiotic residue in foods.
  • Use a water filter filtration device to remove chlorine from your tap water or buy bottles of water for drinking. Chlorine is a disinfectant that reduces the spread of microorganisms, their bacteria and viruses, so it can eliminate the good gut microorganisms.
  • Avoid highly processed foods, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and red meat.
  • Eat a balanced diet without sugar or too much fiber.

10 Foods That Cause Inflammation

Studies on Gut Bacteria and Diets

Numerous studies have been done on diets and good gut bacteria. One study showed that people who consumed too much animal protein had a higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which may reflect very poor gut health.

Another study in 2010 compared the gut bacteria in children. Italian children’s gut bacteria was compared to children in Burkina Faso, Africa. The children in Italy ate more meat and the African children ate diets high in fiber. The African children had healthier gut bacteria. The Italian children’s gut bacteria had more bacteria that is associated with disease and inflammation.

In 2019, a study showed that red meat raises the level of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which is a byproduct of gut bacteria but it can increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

A 2016 study evaluated 452 people using probiotics for treating periodontal disease with positive results that depended on which probiotic they used.

A bottle of Yakult, a probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus paracasei
A bottle of Yakult, a probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus paracasei | Source

Final Conclusions

Probiotics are probably helpful for anyone that is suffering with a digestive tract ailment, and probiotics are probably a healthy choice for anyone. The studies are not clear as to how many probiotic pills you should take or when to take them.

It is good to carefully check the label to see exactly what you are buying. Shop at a health food store or purchase a familiar name brand for probiotics. Eating healthy fermented foods is also a good idea.

If you are taking antibiotics, then the probiotics are especially helpful. If you have a digestive system disease, then try probiotics to see if they help. Ultimately, it comes down to how you feel when you take the probiotics.

Probiotics

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    3 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Hi Pamela,

    Your healthy eating suggestions, especially the yogurt seem to do the trick for me without having to take probiotics.

    Thanks again for doing such a comprehensive job on this subject.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Adrienne,

    It does sound like the Kefir solved your problem. I am glad you are feeling better. Your comments are appreciated.

  • alexadry profile image

    Adrienne Farricelli 

    4 weeks ago

    I have suffered for many years from the maladies of IBD. Now, I drink a little bit of plain Kefir every morning, and am feeling much better! I attribute this to the many strains of probiotics this drink contains.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    4 weeks ago

    Yes, it did. Thank you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Alyssa.

    Vitamin D is very important to the body. If you can eat yogurt or another food maybe that is the answer. If you aree not long long not er having problem with your gut, I would not do anything different.

    I appreciate your comments.

  • Alyssa Nichol profile image

    Alyssa 

    4 weeks ago from Ohio

    This was so informative, Pamela! I enjoyed learning more about the digestive track, gut health, and the benefits of probiotics. While I love yogurt, I've had horrible luck when it comes to taking probiotics in pill form. I'm not sure if it was because the probiotic was helping my body get rid of bad stuff or if it was the probiotic itself causing the issues. All I can say is that I was tired of having to go see my doctor every month, and in truth, I think she was a little tired of seeing me too. haha! But, we came up with a few solutions and her suggestion of taking a Vitamin D supplement really worked! I haven't had to go back since last spring and I'm so happy! haha!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Robert,

    I hope this article fully answered your question. I appreciate your comments.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    4 weeks ago

    Thank you very much. I was wondering if probiotics were of any use for someone who wasn't ill.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms Dora,

    I think eating a good yogurt works for many people. O appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Miebakagh, Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Miebakagh57 profile image

    Miebakagh Fiberesima 

    4 weeks ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

    Good to note.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

    Pamela, thanks for the detailed and clear information. I listened to a similar discussion on the Dr.Oz show. I'll keep my yogurt with probiotics.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    I think you are doing good to eat the yogurt. I think it probably keeps you disgestive yogurt balanced. I appreciate your comments, Linda.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

    I often eat yogurt containing live bacteria and enjoy it very much. I hope it's doing me some good! Your article has reminded me that it's time to get some more.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Shauna,

    I think the Greek yogurt is very good and I also like sauerkraut. The probiotics in our system feeds on the prebiotics.

    I am glad you found the article informative. Your comments are much appreciated. Have a great week, Shauna.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    5 weeks ago from Central Florida

    Very informative article, Pamela. I found it interesting that prebiotics are beneficial but can't be digested. Hmmm.

    I don't take probiotic supplements, but I do like Greek yogurt, which is high in probiotics. I use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. In fact, I can't remember the last time I bought sour cream. I also love sauerkraut but don't eat it often enough. I'll have to work on that!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Munawar,

    Thank you for reading and for your comment.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Audry,

    It certainly sounds like you have your digestive system under control. I appreciate your comments, as always. I hope you have a great week.

    Stay safe and healthy!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Snake, Thanks for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Devika,

    It sounds like you do eat a healthy breakfast. I am glad you like the article and your comments are appreciated. Have a great week, Devika!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rajan,

    I think using natural foods probably the best way to go. Thanks so much for your comments. Have a great week!

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    5 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    I like the idea of a good breakfast usually some yogurt and fresh fruit or oats. Thank you for an informative and useful hub Important information is always necessary and from you is a pleasure to read,

  • Snake Bite Sefety profile image

    Snake Bite Sefety 

    5 weeks ago

    yogurt is so good for us

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    5 weeks ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    I drink Kombucha every day and take a probiotic capsule as well. I'm hoping to replace the good bacteria that was lost while on high doses of Keflex. Thanks for this great article!

  • M Drsleep profile image

    Munawar Hussain 

    5 weeks ago from kot adu

    nice one

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy,

    I think you and your husband probably eat very healthy as you are starting your day that way. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

    Stay healthy, Peggy!

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

    We generally start each day eating some fresh berries and Greek yogurt. I also occasionally take a probiotic in capsule form. Thanks for writing another informative article.

  • Danny Fernandes profile image

    Danny 

    5 weeks ago from India

    Welcome Pamela mam

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Danny,

    It sounds like you have some knowledge about foods high in probiotics. Thank you for reading and for your nice comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    I don't think it would hurt but you might try using foods that have more probiotics. I did not find anything about bad side effects. It is up to you, of course. I appreciate your comments.

    Happy 4th of July weekend!

  • Danny Fernandes profile image

    Danny 

    5 weeks ago from India

    Excellent article. Yes, I have tasted Yakult. It has numerous goods cultured bacteria and is beneficial for gut health.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

    Pamela, you've got me thinking that I should do something about this. My gut feels just find, but there's always room for improvement and the facts you've presented are quite compelling. What could it hurt?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your nice comments. If you have any digestive problems the probiotics will probably help. I am glad you found the article interesting.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    5 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

    Hi Pamela. Thank you for this informative article. I have never taken probiotics but You have convinced me to take the pill form ( I don’t like yoghurt.) After all it can’t hurt can it? Thank you for sharing this and making it interesting.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Meg,

    I think it is great that you make the 24 hour yogurt. I have never done that. Those bacteria in the yogurt make for a healthy digestive system.

    I would think your husbands symptoms have improved.

    i don't tolerate milk due to lung problems. I don't know if the homemade yogurt would be a problem. I do eat Greek yogurt occasionally but as you said it has a shelf life.

    I really appreciate you sharing your experience.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Bill, I agree with your entiment about adding something you don't need. I appreciate your comments as always, my friend.

    Happy 4th to you and Bev also.

  • DreamerMeg profile image

    DreamerMeg 

    5 weeks ago from Northern Ireland

    I started making 24 hour yogurt for my husband over a year ago, to help with his ulcerative colitis once he stopped smoking. We both enjoy a bowl of this every day and I think it is helping his gut too. Some people say (as you mention) that probiotics are not helpful or that eating probiotics will not get the bacteria to the gut. To this, I would say, then how else do those bacteria get there? We don't breathe them into the gut and spontaneous generation was disproved a few hundred years ago, so the only way in is by eating them. There may not be many bacteria in commercial yogurt, even live ones, because they are treated for a longer shelf life. But homemade 24 hour yogurt has trillions of them. Personally I hate milk and always have but I love plain 24 hour yogurt just by itself or with stewed fruit. I even give it to my elderly sister in law and I add pure honey to hers. She eats it with no problem but would not touch a pot of commercial yogurt.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

    Great information! For now I think I'll pass. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and my body ain't broke yet. :) Thanks for the information, Pamela, and Happy 4th to you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Manatita,

    Thank you so much for reading and for your nice comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rosina,

    It is true we have a choice between fermented or pills. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi MG,

    Thank you for your very nice comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna,

    It is important to buy a probiotic or drink with probiotics. The 3 most common bacterias I listed so at least 1 or 2 should be on the label.

    I'm glad you have no digestive problems. Thanks for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Manuela,

    That is a great source of probiotics. Thank you for your comment.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    5 weeks ago

    I use them if I ever need to take antibiotics, however, I feel that my diet keeps my digestive system in good order. They are useful for the conditions mentioned, although I think it also depends on the type and strength of the probiotic. Lots of valuable information in this interesting article Pamela.

  • emge profile image

    MG Singh 

    5 weeks ago from Singapore

    Very informative article. It clears a lot of misconceptions about probiotics in simple Language. Thank you

  • surovi99 profile image

    Rosina S Khan 

    5 weeks ago

    Thank you, for the valuable article, Pamela, about probiotics. It is interesting to note that the microorganisms including good bacteria help with the digestive process. They are present in fermented food and they can be taken in whenever one has digestive ailments. Well-written and useful.

  • manatita44 profile image

    manatita44 

    5 weeks ago from london

    Very informative and necessary article. They have helped me for years!! Thanks Pamela.

  • Nela13 profile image

    Manuela 

    5 weeks ago from Portugal

    I know how important probiotics are, I drink Kefir every day.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric,

    It sounds like you are eating all the right fods. I am glad to hear that. Thanks for commenting on the article.

    Stay safe nd healthy, Eric.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    wonderfully researched and written. Yogurt and ACV are my maintenance. We just include the foods with probiotics as part of our diet. Pretty much just because those are foods we eat. Places where refrigeration and canning are not the convenience as here, ferment stuff more. So traditional foods carry enough.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Sp,

    I think your assumption is correct. You may not feel anything different but I don't think anything bad would happen. I appreciate your nice comments. Stay safe and healthy.

  • sangre profile image

    Sp Greaney 

    5 weeks ago from Ireland

    I didn't realize how beneficial these could be for those health issues you mentioned. I suppose there isn't any harm in taking one, especially if it does something good inside your body and you aren't getting what you need from your diet. Great article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ruby,

    Yogurt is a good source of probiotics also. It sounds like you both know what it takes to feel good. Thanks so much for your comments.

    Stay safe and healthy!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Mel,

    I only started taking them fairly recently but they do seem to help. I buy a quality brand and they may be something for you to consider.

    This is a controversial topic but I appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish,

    I think most of us fall short on the healthy diet occasionally. I do great for a significant period of time then I eat some things I probably shouldn't. I do find the probiotics helpful to reduce heartburn. I know you have gastro problems so it is a shame the probiotics don't help. I appreicate your generous comments.

    Stay safe and healthy.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    5 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

    This was an interesting article. My husband, Ray takes a probiotic every morning and say's that it really aids in digestion. I eat yogurt which has active bacteria. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Miebakagh,

    It sounds lie you follow a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for your comments.

  • Miebakagh57 profile image

    Miebakagh Fiberesima 

    5 weeks ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

    Pamela, I eat probiotics. But with any meal I made it with. Thanks.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    5 weeks ago from USA

    Excellent information. I don’t eat the red meat but need to reduce dietary sugar. I take probiotics because my gastroenterologist suggests it but haven’t noticed a personal difference (possibly because I need to make some other changes). Again, great article.

  • Mel Carriere profile image

    Mel Carriere 

    5 weeks ago from San Diego California

    This is a subject that interests me greatly, because as I get older my digestion gets poorer. I was thinking about probiotics as a possible remedy, but I am afraid to try it. Great summary of this controversial subject.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda,

    I take them about everyday also and they help my dgestion also. I am glad you liked the article. Thaks so much for reading it and commenting. Stay safe and healthy.

  • lindacee profile image

    Linda Chechar 

    5 weeks ago from Arizona

    I take probiotics almost everyday. It really helps the healthy digestive and gut inflammation. Liked your article about good probiotics.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Thank you very much for your nice comment, JC.

  • JC Scull profile image

    JC Scull 

    5 weeks ago from Gainesville, Florida

    Excellent article Pamela.

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