Probiotics are a type of “good” bacteria used by the body to aid in natural and healthy digestion. Friendly bacteria are vital to proper development of the immune system, to protect against microorganisms that cause disease, and to maximize the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. Due to unhealthier diets and the increased number of people on antibiotics and other medications, men and women’s natural flora (good bacteria) have been decreased leading to digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics have also been linked to strengthening the immune response and help reduce the severity of colds, flu’s, UTI’s, vaginal yeast infections, and certain skin infections such as eczema. Did you know that 70% or more of our immune system function is in our gut? Your stomach has 5-7 pounds of good bacteria which is constantly under attack by the foods we eat or the medications we take. Another fun fact is that 90% of seratonin production is made in the gut which helps prevent anxiety and depression.
Probiotics can be found naturally in foods such as yogurts and kefir. Kefir is a drinkable form of yogurt which contains beneficial yeast as well as probiotics, which when found together actually produce an enzyme called lactase (lactase is what helps break down lactose in the body). Kefir also has been found to help cleanse the intestines and boost immune system function (www.kefir.net).
Probiotics may also be taken in supplemental form. The most effective probiotics are found in the refrigerated section of your health food store. It is recommended that when taking antibiotics and certain medications you should supplement with probiotics offering around 85 billion organisms per day. If you are not taking any medications or antibiotics, I would recommend getting a good probiotic and following the bottle’s instructions. Here at the Chiropractic Family Center, we sell a probiotic by Metagenics for adults, and soon we will also offer probiotics for your children and infants as well! The infant probiotic is actually a liquid so it can be used right from birth for both breastfeeding mom’s and for formula feeding mom’s! If you have additional questions please don’t hesitate to ask!