Most people don’t think about it, but we live in a world where there is constant hoard of
invisible harmful microbes around us. The best way to protect ourselves in this world is
to arm our selves with research and information regarding powerful “good” bacteria. In
other words, consider taking probiotic supplements.
New products containing probiotics are hitting the market place at a fast and furious
pace according to current market researchers. Companies want to latch onto the rising
population of people who are becoming more and more health conscious. The industry
has, at least, tripled from 1994 to 2003. The grocery stores, pharmacies, and health
food stores are providing numerous foods and probiotic supplements
So, what are probiotics and just what do they do? They are live microorganisms, such
as bacteria, yeasts, and viruses not unlike the bacteria that can be found in the human
intestinal system. Research to date seems to indicate that there are real health benefits
from ingesting these bacteria. They are sometimes called “good bacteria” or “friendly
bacteria.” Consumers usually obtain them in the form of dietary supplements in pills,
capsules, and powders.
There has been much debate on exactly how to define probiotics. The World Health
Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has
determined that “probiotics are live microorganisms, which when administered in
adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.
These microorganisms are used to support the general health and to treat some
illnesses. There is not a great deal of evidence that would support the use of these
bacteria; however, more research may change all of that very soon. Interestingly, these
organisms are found most frequently in breast fed infants. This may be why infants are
immune to many diseases for the first few months of their lives.
Historically, there are probiotic foods that come from ancient time, such as fermented
foods and cultured milk products. They were especially prevalent in Egypt and Asia.
The health benefits of these microorganisms is being researched by many institutions
both inside the United States and in other parts of the world. The interest is growing
among medical professionals about the use of probiotics in IBS (irritable bowel
syndrome). To date there is only one strain of this bacteria “Bifid bacterium infantis” that
has show to be successful in treating IBS and its debilitating symptoms of bloating,
constipation, and diarrhea.
These microorganisms live in the digestive tract and are safe for most people. But, they
are sold without FDA approval because prior approval of supplements is not required by
the FDA. Therefore, you should always check with your health care provider before
adding any supplement to your daily regime. This is true especially if you are already
taking any traditional medications.
Now that you know and understand, that any healthy supplement can cause side
effects or allergic reactions. Be sure to do your research before adding them to your
daily routine. Also, remember there is no standard for the manufacturing process for
these supplements so the effectiveness may differ from brand to brand. Even with
these cautions, the benefits of these supplements far outweigh the possible risks.
Probiotic supplements may be the best thing you can add to your lifestyle especially if
you or a loved one are suffering from intestinal problems, including irritable bowel