The human body houses trillions of bacteria that work to keep it functioning at an optimal level. Probiotics are wellness supplements that introduce additional good bacteria to your system. These supplements are claimed to provide a multitude of health benefits, from clearing your skin to losing weight to improving brain function.
Most good bacteria live in the intestines. In fact, this is where the bulk of your immune system is housed. At times, the good bacteria in your digestive tract can become depleted, opening the door for bad bacteria to come in and take over. By introducing a probiotic supplement, you can help replenish the good bacteria to keep your body functioning the way it should.
Different strains of probiotics do different things, but none of them will do you any good unless the bacteria cultures are live and unexpired. Potency is another issue you should pay attention to. If you’d like some help sorting out the different probiotics available today, read on for more information.
Common probiotic strains
Most probiotic supplements don’t come with a single strain of bacteria. In fact, there may be seven or more strains in one supplement. This diversity is a good thing because each type of bacteria helps your body in a different way. Here are some of the most common types of bacteria you can expect to find in a probiotic supplement.
B. bifidum is another popular immune-boosting bacteria. Its effects are similar to L. acidophilus: it can help optimize digestion and may even protect against certain intestinal pathogens. Some studies suggest that B. bifidum helps improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Perhaps the most common type of probiotic, L. acidophilus is a hardy bacteria that can help boost your immune system. It also helps with the digestion and absorption of foods. Many people who are lactose intolerant report improved digestion of dairy products when they introduce L. acidophilus into their diets.
B. longum can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. It may also promote regularity, so if you suffer from constipation, you may wish to consider it. Some studies also suggest that it can help improve brain function by decreasing cortisol levels and improving memory.
Q. Is it safe to take probiotics while you’re pregnant?
A. Studies suggest that taking probiotics may help boost your baby’s immune system. But as with anything, it’s best to consult with your doctor before adding a probiotic supplement to your health regimen.
Q. Do probiotics have side effects?
A. Most of the time, they do not – but it is possible. You may experience mild constipation, bloating, or diarrhea when you first begin taking probiotics. This is usually temporary.
Q. What are the best probiotic strains to take while on antibiotics?
A. Antibiotics wipe out much of the bacteria in your body without discriminating between good and bad. While this can help get rid of bacterial illnesses, it can also deplete your immune system, which may take a while to recover. Probiotics, particularly those strains that are known for boosting immunity, can help speed up this process. It’s a good idea to start taking probiotics with your antibiotics and continue taking them for about a month afterward to ensure that your good bacteria returns to a healthy level.