Probiotics are microorganisms that are helpful to improve the digestive system. Probiotics are typically found in different foods and supplements. These microorganisms maintain the balance of the microbial flora in the intestines. It promotes the growth of good bacteria, and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive system. One of the species of probiotic microorganism that is commonly known as the lactic acid bacteria, is called lactobacillus acidophilus. Certain strains of bacteria and yeast are also known to be useful to benefit the digestive system.
Probiotics are recommended to treat a number of medical conditions, like diarrhea, gas, and cramping. People who have antibiotics for specific infections often develop digestive problems, like diarrhea, as the medication kills the harmless bacteria along with the disease-causing organisms. The loss of good bacteria from the intestines can lead to urinary tract infections and yeast infections. Probiotics help to replace the beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Probiotics are also used to control inflammation for inflammatory bowel disease. It is also being studied for its ability to prevent colon cancer, skin infections, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics are effective in treating different conditions like:
- Diarrhea in children
- Ulcerative colitis
- Infection and inflammation of the digestive system in children, known as enterocolitis
- Inflammation of the intestines seen after intestinal surgery
- Eczema caused by an allergy to milk
Probiotics also help to improve the function of the immune system. Many experts believe that probiotics may be a useful form of treatment for vaginitis, Crohn’s disease, and diarrhea caused by the bacteria C.difficile.
Probiotics are known to have very few side effects. However, it is generally not recommended for people with weak immune systems and those who have serious medical conditions. People with severe pancreatitis should not take probiotics, as it may increase complications.
Probiotics are now available in the form of tablets and capsules, and are also found in different foods, like yogurt and dairy drinks. The recommended dose of probiotics may vary depending on the individual. It is given from as little as 50 million live cells to as much as one trillion cells in one dose. Furthermore, for different probiotics are prescribed to cater to specific strains of microorganisms. For example, Lactobacillus reuteri and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii are usually suggested for treating infectious diarrhea in children.