Our intestines contain millions of bacteria. Some of these are thought to be harmful while others promote good health and aid in digestion. Probiotics contain live bacteria most commonly Lactobacillus and Bifidius strains, that are also present in a healthy diet.
If the population of healthy bacteria in our gut is reduced (for example through prolonged or excessive antibiotic use, a Candida yeast overgrowth in the gut, poor diet, stress or immune deficiencies), a course of probiotics can be used to build up the population to healthy levels.
Probiotics are thought to have a wide range of health giving properties. By restoring the natural balance of healthy intestinal micro-flora they assist in reducing the toxins that result from harmful bacteria, Candida yeasts and parasites. In fact they may help get rid of a yeast infection that has already taken hold. Probiotics are also though to help reduce inflammations associated with inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome and also prevent cancer of the colon by binding with potential carcinogenic substances. They also assist in restoring the natural absorptive capacity of the gastrointestinal tract that is vital to nutrient update and overall well being.
When purchasing probiotics, there are a number of things to look out for to ensure you are getting a good quality product. First check the expiry date to confirm that this has not passed. The product is comprised of live organisms and many of the best probiotic brands use an inert glass packaging to protect them from any contamination (moisture, heat and so on).
Most health professional agree that capsule form is the most efficient way to take probiotics. But make sure the capsules are designed to withstand the action of stomach acids and can carry the probiotics to the intestine unharmed. Finally, ensure that the product you are buying clearly sets out the bacterial strains included and the number (in millions) of colony forming units (CFU’s) for each strain.