Probiotics: A Healthy Digestive System Equals a Healthy Immune System

Probiotics: A Healthy Digestive System Equals a Healthy Immune SystemYou may have heard about probiotic products in recent years.  They have been popping up on shelves in health food stores, supplement stores, and in general grocers, but what are probiotics?  Should I be taking probiotics and are they safe for everyone to take?  These questions and then some will be addressed in the following sections below.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are listed a class of bacteria that have claims for being beneficial for health and the digestive system when certain types of bacteria at certain amounts are consumed [1].  While common knowledge has you believing that bacteria harms health (which is why we wash our hands often), probiotics actually have great strength in their claims.  The intestine is responsible for digesting and absorbing nutrients and the intestine is lined with millions of bacteria, which are also responsible for processing waste.  Sometimes, the intestines lose the number of bacteria due to drugs and medications (antibiotics) which can cause the intestines to slow and even stop elimination.  When this happens, it is crucial to supplement with probiotics to generate more of this beneficial bacteria (flora).

Probiotics for a Healthy Immune System

Since probiotics primarily work and benefit the intestines, how does this relate to overall immune system health?  In addition to probiotics helping intestinal health, probiotics can help reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the body known to cause infections and disease.  In addition to this elimination process of bad bacteria, it is also believed that probiotics help to increase the number of antibodies to particular vaccines, which makes the immune system more effective when harmful bacteria is circulating in the blood [2].

Who Should Take Probiotics?

The question now is should you be taking probiotics?  The answer may not be so clear.  While there is not a whole lot of research suggesting or discouraging the prophylactic use of probiotics, one must be careful as to how much to consume and at the particular frequency.  A local pharmacist should be able to answer these questions.  In addition, following a visit with a physician, it is best to discuss your supplemental use prior to the physician prescribing medication, as probiotics could have an interaction with the medication.  Lastly, probiotics should be taken to work a particular of health.  Taking the supplement just to improve health is not the best reason to ingest probiotics.  If you are specifically looking to improve digestive motility, health, and immune response, considers taking the supplement.

What Foods Contain Probiotics?

Some foods are loaded with probiotics and we may not be aware of it.  Real yogurt (the kind of yogurt that is not loaded with additives and fillers) is a great source of probiotics, especially Greek strained yogurt.  Yogurt is loaded with lactobacillus, the primary type of probiotic you will find in foods.  Some other types of foods likely to have probiotics include refrigerated items, some drinks in health stores are probiotic-infused, and lastly most yogurts and Greek yogurts should be your go-to source.

Discuss Probiotics with Your Physician and Pharmacist

If you feel you are interested in taking this supplement, keep in mind that this supplement is generally considered to be safe and only few side effects are known [3].  These side effects may include an upset stomach, diarrhea, excessive gas, bloating, and possible allergic reactions.  If you experience any side effects or feel uneasy when taking this supplement, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.  A pharmacist can be helpful in answering more questions regarding your health and probiotics, but a doctor is your guide to your direct medical needs.  Always consult with a physician prior to taking any new supplement or medication and make sure to express your concerns and wishes with your physician.

 

References

[1] http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics

[2] https://www.gastro.org/patient-center/diet-medications/probiotics

[3] http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics?page=2

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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