Anyone who has ever lived with poor gut health knows how disruptive it can be. Every aspect of your life feels as though it is impacted when your gut health is out of balance. This is why so much attention is turning toward probiotics in recent years. The truth is that probiotics can be instrumental in making your “gut” healthy and happy, so you can get back to the business of living your life.
Before you get too excited, though, there is much to learn about the potential health benefits of probiotics and how best to get them into the body to work their magic in your gut and beyond. Let’s explore the world of probiotics and what they can mean for you.
Probiotics 101: The Basics about Probiotics
While often used as a “catch-all” phrase, the truth is that probiotics are essentially healthy varieties of microbes that include bacteria, fungi, yeast, viruses, and protozoa. Like the unhealthy versions of these things, you will find that there are many different strains. These individual strains offer different potential benefits to your body. While they are most commonly associated with gut health, there are many different areas of the human body that can be aided with the introduction of the right probiotics.
While it may sound counterintuitive to add live bacteria into the body as a means of fighting bacteria, the theory is sound according to Harvard Medical School who reports that nearly 100 trillion microorganisms inhabit the average healthy bowel. These “good” bacteria help to prevent the bad bacteria from taking over your bowels and your life in a very negative way.
The fact is, many physicians are now recommending probiotic supplements as treatments for conditions that typically defy traditional medicines, such as irritable bowel syndrome, urinary infections, and others.
Potential Probiotic Health Benefits
There are certain areas of the body where the most beneficial probiotics live and do their best work. Among the areas commonly helped by probiotics are the following:
- Urinary tract
There are many conditions associated with these areas of the body where probiotics can be immensely beneficial including the treatment of conditions such as Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, bladder cancer recurrences, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), vaginal infections, dental disease, eczema, and others. There is some evidence that probiotics can help treat diabetes, reduce blood pressure, protect against food allergies, and even boost immunity. In other words, there are many conditions that probiotics offer a great deal of promise for treating.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all straightforward when dealing with probiotics and the many potential health benefits they offer. There are many other things, for instance, that may affect how these things work within the body. Other medications, for one, can be detrimental to the positive impact of probiotics by killing the live, healthy bacteria that is introduced into the body before it can have the positive effects you’re looking for. The same can be said of antiviral medications that can kill “good” viruses or, at the very least, diminish their effectiveness. Birth control is another example of a medication that can limit the effectiveness of probiotics designed to bring balance to the microflora of a vagina, rendering them ineffective at best.
Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck with Probiotic Supplements
For many things, a natural diet is the best way to consume certain nutrients and macronutrients. That isn’t the case with probiotics which is why there are so many foods with probiotics added to them and so many probiotic supplements available on the market today. Unfortunately, not all supplements are created equally. Unlike medications that go through rigorous testing and quality controls before being approved, supplements do not have the same requirements.
For this reason, it is important to choose supplements wisely. Work only with reputable suppliers who have a solid reputation for delivering quality products. Additionally, educate yourself about the various probiotic strains to make sure you’re getting supplements that are better suited for your specific condition and recognized as potential solutions to your problem before taking them.
Before you begin a probiotic regimen, it is a good idea to work with a medical practitioner who is familiar with your condition, your challenges, the medications you currently take, and the potential benefits probiotics have to offer someone with your condition. Someone who understands your health, the efforts you’ve taken to improve your health, and your health goals for the future is better suited to assist you in choosing the right probiotics to meet your needs and to warn you of potential interactions and side effects you may experience.
Whether you’re ready to take the plunge or not, there is no harm to come from researching the potential benefits probiotics bring to the table so that when the time comes to make your decision, you are better prepared to make an informed one.