You’ve probably read an article (or 20) about the pros of taking probiotics or heard someone talk up their benefits. But do you, specially, really need them? The answer is… maybe. It really depends on your specific health needs and issues. Here is some advice on what probiotics are, if you should try them and what to look for when buying some:
So what are probiotics? Probiotics are supplements with bacteria and yeasts that are good for you. They are often live cultures, similar to those found in yogurt, kimchi, kefir or kombucha. They are touted for their health benefits of aiding digestion (think less constipation or diarrhea) and boosting immunity. They might be helpful if you don’t like any of the foods listed above.
Probiotics are a great supplement for those who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other chronic digestive problems. They also might be helpful in the winter months to avoid getting sick. But don’t rely on them as a cure for every stomach problem. If you have a more serious stomach disease like Crohn’s disease, they probably won’t help you at all.
If you decide to try a probiotic supplement, what should you look for? There are many different types and brands and experts say all are generally safe to use. Different species of bacteria have been shown to treat different issues. For example, Bifidobacterium infantis has been shown to lessen IBS more effectively than others. Lactobacillus is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
When you choose one, make sure you only take the recommended amount. If you’ve never tried probiotics before, you might actually feel worse at first. Think gas and bloating or going to the bathroom more often. This should pass in a few days or you may want to switch to another brand. Try a brand for a month to see if it will truly work for you. If you don’t like it after that time period, go ahead and switch. Keep a close eye on the expiration date too, as it nears that date, it won’t be as effective.
If you’re unsure if you should take them or what type to try, ask your doctor. They may be able to recommend a brand or tell you if you should even take them to begin with.
Do you take probiotics? What was the reason you started taking them? Share your favorite brands or types!