Probiotics, Yes or No?

A recent client question regarding PROBIOTICS and PREBIOTICS spurred this blog. She was confused as to what all the hype surrounding these supplements was about and if they were something she needed to be concerned about.

First things first – good for her for questioning the media and not falling prey to the commercialization of nutrition. One of the first steps toward good health is education. Hopefully that is where I can be of help.

Our digestive system normally has what we would call “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. Maintaining a correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health. Many different factors can disrupt this balance such as illness, medications, diet and the environment.

It is up to you and your doctor to decide if Probiotics are for you.

Here are some facts that may help you make an educated decision:

What are probiotics?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, probiotics are live microorganisms—usually bacteria, but they can also be microbes such as yeasts—that people can ingest to bolster the population of desirable bacteria in the gut. Probiotics exist naturally in some foods and are also available as dietary supplements in powder, capsule, and tablet forms. The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations call probiotics the “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

In laymen’s terms – Probiotics can help balance out the bacteria that is necessary for normal gut function. Research has indicated that they may be helpful in such conditions as inhibiting yeast and urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal ailments such as diarrhea/constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

How do they protect the body against disease?

The favorable bacteria in the gut is constantly defending the body against “invaders” that if left unchecked may lead to illness. The thought is that by helping the gut’s good bacteria to grow and thrive by ingesting probiotics, it may help a person to defend their health.

What is a prebiotic?

The Prebiotic is a specialized plant fiber that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria that already exist in the gut. The body itself does not digest these plant fibers; instead, the fibers act as a fertilizer to promote the growth o