What are Probiotics and do I need them?

This is a common question I am asked by patients. Probiotics are “good” or beneficial bacteria that typically live in our digestive tract. We have over millions of different bacteria that live in our gut. The good bacteria help aid in digestion, production of vitamins (in particular vitamin B12) and offer protection over “bad” bacteria. Stress, chronic medications, and antibiotics are among a few things that can alter the flora in our digestive tract leading to more “bad” than “good” bacteria over time. Antibiotics in particular get rid of both the good and bad bacteria without a preference of one over the other so it is important to include taking probiotics while starting any antibiotic. Healthy snack

Studies have shown that probiotics are effective in managing many conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis), diarrhea, vaginal yeast infections, and oral thrush. Higher dosing of probiotics are needed to treat these conditions, such as 100-200 billion CFU and sometimes even more. The most common good bacteria include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Acidophilus thus make sure these strains are in your probiotic.

The digestive tract is the home of our immune system, comprising 70% of the immune system. Thus maintaining good gut health is essential to supporting our overall immune system. It is clear that without a balanced gut flora that our immune system cannot work optimally thus weakening our ability to overcome infections. Taking probiotics helps increase the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Some probiotic organisms can be found naturally in foods such as cultured milk products including yogurt and kefir as well as pickled vegetables (kimchi) and fermented beverages (kombucha). These foods are common in the diet of many traditional cultures.

At Hermann Wellness, we offer Holistic Primary Care to our patients. Our offices are located in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Please call the office at 813-902-9599 for more information or to schedule an appointment.