Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. Pro in latin means “for” and biotics means “pertaining to life”. They can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods, in supplements and even beauty products.
Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful germs, many are actually helpful. The research behind probiotics is mind blowing! A quick search in PubMed of studies in humans will show tens of thousands of results, with the vast majority of these studies being conducted in the last 20 years.
Different strains of microbes can make it easier to lose weight and some make it harder. Certain strains of bacteria can help in severe auto-immune conditions, but some can make them worse. Certain strains may reduce severity of atopic conditions such as eczema and allergies and different strains are indicated depending on what’s going on with your gut function. On top of this more and more research is beginning to highlight the use of probiotics in mental health conditions as we further understand the gut-brain connection.
After hearing all of this positive information surrounding probiotics, you may feel influenced to go out and give these little guys a try for yourself and when you start looking you realize the hundreds of options out there. So you give it your best guess and pick up a probiotic. Maybe this was based on a recommendation from a family member or a friend. Or maybe you liked that it had catchy advertising that you could relate to. But beware! When you pick up a random probiotic without knowing the research behind it, it probably won’t have the targeted benefit you’ve heard about, or worse it can actually make your condition flare!
Which is why it’s so important to work with a Naturopathic Doctor to help you identify the strains that have been shown to be beneficial and the best products to obtain them at the optimal dose as well as how to properly take them for you!