Probiotics, according to dietitian Katherine Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic, are supplements that contain microorganisms that may help replenish colonies of "good" bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are available in capsule form and are found in yogurt, certain juices and some soy-based foods. Depending on the reason you are taking a probiotic supplement, the timing of the supplement may also be important in maximizing its potential benefits. Just as interactions can occur between supplements, medications and medical conditions, they may also impair the availability of beneficial bacteria. Check with your doctor before using a probiotic supplement.
According to the National Institutes of Health, research on the effectiveness of probiotic supplements for treating diarrhea has lead to the most solid scientific evidence. If you have a form of infectious diarrhea, the probiotics work with your body's immune system to destroy the microorganisms causing the infection. In addition, according to the University of Maryland, at least one research study was found to help people suffering from traveler's diarrhea, which is usually caused by the introduction of bacteria from foods or water consumed in certain countries.
Urinary Tract Infections
The University of Maryland explains that women who have a tendency to have frequent urinary tract infections may find benefit from taking probiotic supplements or eating foods that contain them. Some individuals, they add, claim to find preventative benefits from vaginal yeast infections by regularly using a probiotic supplement such as acidophilus. Eating foods that contain live active probiotic cultures, such as yogurt and soy products, may also help prevent urinary infections without the need to take an actual pill supplement. This may make it easier for some women to gain the benefits of probiotics without taking a pill.
When Taking Antibiotics
Antibiotics are medications used to kill the microbes in your body that are causing infection. Unfortunately, antibiotics are unable to differentiate between "good" and "bad" bacteria and can decrease the amount of good bacteria while fighting off an infection. According to an article published in the 2004 edition of "The Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases & Medical Microbiology," antibiotic and probiotic administration was associated with a significant decrease in the duration of symptoms. If you are taking antibiotics, check with your doctor before using a probiotic supplement concurrently.
The H. pylori bacteria that has been found to cause stomach ulcers as well as play a role in inflammatory bowel diseases, may respond favorably to the use of probiotic supplements. A 2007 research study performed at University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland and published in "The Journal of Nutrition" found that while antibiotic treatment of H. pylori bacteria appears to be effective, the addition of probiotic supplements was associated with a reduction in side effects from the antibiotics. In addition, researchers in this study found an associated reduction in gastric inflammation when patients with active H. pylori bacteria were administered antibiotics combined with probiotic supplements. Check with your doctor before using probiotics.
- Mayo Clinic: Is it Important to Include Probiotics in a Healthy Diet?
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Introduction to Probiotics
- University of Maryland: Lactobacillus Acidophilus
- National Institutes of Health: An Introduction to Probiotics
- "The Journal of Nutrition;" Helicobacter Pylori and Probiotics
- yogurt image by anshuca from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.