Probiotics 101 | All About Probiotics - The Good Bacteria
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms made up of bacteria and yeast that provide numerous health benefits, particularly for gut health. When you hear bacteria and yeast, we tend to think of them causing disease however did you know there’s “good” bacteria and fungus as well?
According to Harvard Medical School, there are over 500 species of probiotics with each strain providing slightly different benefits. The most commonly found types of probiotics are in the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families while the most common yeast probiotic is Saccharomyces boulardii.
What is the best source of probiotics?
Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, pickles (homemade not store bought), sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso soup, cottage cheese, sourdough and more. Yogurt is one of the most common and easiest to access sources of probiotics however be sure to check the label for added sugars as yogurt often has a lot of added sugars which can often defeat the purpose of taking probiotics.
If you don't like fermented foods and/or can't eat dairy, taking a high quality probiotic supplement is also very effective and will often have multiple probiotic strains where foods may only have one or two. When choosing a probiotic supplement make sure it has a minimum of 1 Billion CFU (colony forming units) in order to be the most effective. Anything less than 1 Billion CFUs will not have much of an effective on gut or overall health.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Everyone of all ages can benefit from consuming probiotics, either via food or supplements, even those who don't suffer from any health issues. Probiotics are most commonly known for their benefits on managing a healthy gut biome however they have also been shown to help manage overall immune health, skin disorders, chronic yeast & thrush infections, inflammation, anxiety disorders and general mental health as well as helping to manage the symptoms of various autoimmune disorders.
Healthy gut bacteria levels can lead to:
- Better digestion and bowel movements
- Reduced inflammation in the body
- Better immune system function
- Better nutrient absorption
- Reduction in allergy and asthma symptoms
Probiotics are also extremely beneficial to take during and after a course of antibiotics as taking antibiotics kills off both bad AND good bacteria. Yeast and thrush infections are common after a round of antibiotics as all antibiotics kill off healthy bacteria needed to fight off yeast infections however taking a good probiotic supplement and eating food high in probiotics can help counteract the negative side effects of antibiotics.
Side Effects of Probiotics
In general, probiotics don't tend to have too many negative side effects and most people will not experience any (negative) side effects at all. However some people may experience some minor symptoms the first week or so which may include a mild upset stomach with gas and bloating and, rarely, diarrhea. In general, most people do not not these symptoms.
While extremely rare, some may experience an allergic reaction.
Are probiotics safe to take?
Yes! Probiotics are safe for people of all ages to consume however it is always recommended that you speak with your health care provider before starting any new supplements.
Best Probiotics for Autoimmune Disease
Probiotics are beneficial for all sorts of health issues, including people with various autoimmune & other diseases including but not limited to:
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Crohn's/Colitis/Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis & Graves Disease
- Psoriasis & Psoriatic Arthritis
- Sjogren's Syndrome
ImmunaRelief's ImmunaPro probiotics contain 5 different strains of probiotics as well as a prebiotic which work in conjunction to help manage the symptoms of many autoimmune diseases.
Can you purchase probiotics over the counter?
Yes! Probiotics are available over the counter and do not require a doctors prescription although it is always recommended that you speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before starting any new supplements, including probiotics.
Are you probiotics FDA approved?
The FDA does not currently regulate vitamins and supplements and therefore probiotics are not subject to FDA approval. However, you can look for probiotics made in the USA in an FDA approved, GMP certified facility to ensure the best manufacturing practices.
Can children take probiotics?
Yes, most children can safely take probiotics! Again, it's always important to speak to your children's pediatrician before starting any new supplements and children may require a lower CFU count than an adult.
What are the most common probiotics in food?
The most common probiotics in food include those made from the lactic acid bacteria (commonly known as lactobacillus) as well as bifidobacteria.