Supplements

Choosing the Right Probiotic for Your Stomach Problems and Overall Health

By Kristina Pestana, MS, CNS, LDN | My Dr’s Pharmacy

It's likely you've heard that probiotics are good for stomach health. A healthy gut full of beneficial bacteria indeed goes a long way towards overall health. You must, however, be careful and deliberate about anything you eat that might harm your gut organisms. The good bacteria in our gut are always under assault by unhealthy foods and lifestyle and even by some of the medicines we take.

Probiotics are live bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy. They can be found in a variety of forms including capsules and foods such as yogurt. To be effective, a probiotic microbe must be able to reach, proliferate in, and colonize the digestive tract.

Prebiotics feed the gut bacteria and increase the population of beneficial bacteria. We cannot digest them but the bacteria in our gut can. A helpful metaphor to understand prebiotics and probiotics is a garden. The seeds that we plant are the probiotic bacteria and the prebiotic is the water and fertilizer that helps the seeds to grow and flourish.

What are Probiotics and Prebiotics?

How Do Probiotics Help?

Scientific evidence has demonstrated that beneficial bacteria in our GI tract aid digestion, boost our natural defenses, and fight off bacteria that could cause health problems. Intestinal bacteria benefits our health by breaking down toxins, synthesizing vitamins, and defending against infection. They may also play a role in preventing such diseases as peptic ulcers, colorectal cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Are All Probiotics the Same?

The simple answer is no. Every single probiotic supplement available on the market could be different. Some probiotics have a single strain of organisms, while others contain multiple strains. 

When choosing the appropriate probiotic, the particular strains should be matched with the condition that you're trying to improve. For example, several types of probiotics have strong evidence for the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. 

Choosing Good Quality Probiotics 

The availability of numerous probiotic and prebiotic products on the market makes it very confusing to identify good quality probiotic products. 
 
Nutritionists and functional medicine providers are trained to help you identify the right probiotic and prebiotic regimen for you. They may recommend a GI flora test and use the results to create a plan for you that includes the Probiotic with the appropriate strains of bacteria and the correct nutrients for their growth.

This information is for educational purposes only. The statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your physician if you have any question regarding a medical condition

 

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