Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Pros of Probiotics

When you’re grocery shopping for your favorite brand of yogurt and it reads “Live and active cultures” on the label, are you fully aware of what that means? Believe it or not, there are actual living bacteria inside the yogurt. But have no fear, they are good, “friendly” bacteria that can help benefit you and your health!

There are different types of probiotic bacteria found naturally throughout the body, but there is an exceptionally high concentration within the intestines to promote easier digestion of food and to keep quantities of harmful bacteria in check.

Low levels of probiotic bacteria may contribute to unwanted problems like urinary tract infections (UTI), digestive problems, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and vaginal yeast infections.

In order to potentially increase probiotic bacteria, people can take probiotic supplements in the form of a pill or adjust their diets to include foods like yogurt, milk, soy drinks and fermented items like kombucha tea, tempeh or miso.

Consuming probiotic bacteria, under the guidance of a physician, may help alleviate symptoms caused by irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, colitis, acne and eczema in children, but it is not guaranteed. Other benefits may include:

  • Prevention of diarrhea as a result of taking antibiotics
  • Prevention of vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis, a mild infection 
  • Reduction of instances of colds and the flu

In 2009, a study at Stanford University Medical Center also found that people using probiotics were able to lose and maintain weight more easily following gastric bypass surgery compared to those who consumed fewer probiotics after surgery.*

So, the next time you’re in a grocery store, or looking for a change in your yogurt, look for one that has “live and active cultures,” is labeled with low, natural sugar and doesn’t have extra added ingredients! Consider trying out some fermented foods, as well! If you have any questions, contact your gastroenterologist.

For more information about care for Gastrointestinal Disorders at GBMC, visit

*Source -

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