The word ‘Probiotic’ means ‘for life’. Probiotic supplements contain bacteria that can help strengthen the body’s natural defenses while also restoring the natural balance of the more than 500 bacteria found in the human gut.
Researchers believe that some digestive disorders happen when the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines becomes disturbed. This can happen after
an infection or after taking antibiotics. Intestinal problems can also arise when the lining of the intestines is damaged. Taking probiotics may help.
“Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines,” says Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago
Medical Center. These friendly organisms may also help fight bacteria that cause diarrhea.
Although they are still being studied, probiotics may help several specific illnessess. In 2011, experts at Yale university reviewed the research. They concluded that probiotics are most effective for:
The Yale University panel of experts concluded that probiotics may be helpful in other ways, although the evidence is less convincing. These include:
For the most part, taking probiotics is safe and causes few side effects.
Still, probiotics may be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or serious illnesses. One study found that patients with severe pancreatitis who were given probiotics had a higher risk of death.