Should Probiotics Be Part Of Your Gut-Health Routine?

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Probiotics are supplements containing the beneficial bacteria that normally inhabit the human digestive tract. They help to complete the digestive process – and there’s evidence that if they are out of balance, the immune system may not work properly. Consider probiotics if one or more of the following applies to you:

  1. You are on antibiotics, which can wipe out “friendly” intestinal bacteria along with the bad bugs that cause infections.
  2. You have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
  3. You are traveling in underdeveloped countries, and want to reduce the risk of traveler’s
  4. Children born via C-section are showing a tendency toward health issues that could be improved with probiotics. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric Integrative Medicine provider about what might be best for them.

Most of these helpful bacteria occur naturally in cultured milk products, such as yogurt with active cultures or kefir, as well as in naturally fermented pickles and sauerkraut. However, concentrations in these foods may not be high enough to be effective – you may want to take probiotics in liquid or capsule form as well.

The dose is one tablespoon of the liquid culture or one to two capsules with meals unless the label directs otherwise. Always check the expiration date to make sure that the bacteria these products contain are alive and in good condition, and look for probiotics with “colony forming units” (CFUs) in the 10-20 billion per serving range. After you buy, be sure to protect your supply of friendly bugs from heat, moisture, and air.

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