Having stomach issues? You’re not alone. About 40 percent of the population experiences digestive stress, including gas, bloating, cramps, acid reflux, or heartburn. And that’s on a typical day—never mind a holiday! Probiotics can help.
The average digestive system hosts over 500 strains of bacteria, most of them “friendly.” But sometimes the good bacteria–bad bacteria balance teeters toward the bad side, especially if you’re taking antibiotics (which kill the good bugs along with the bad). Consuming probiotics can help maintain proper digestion and intestinal balance.
You can find probiotics naturally in foods such as yogurt, kefir, miso, and tempeh, but you can also buy them as supplements.
Probiotics ease the symptoms of lactose intolerance and help control inflammation. Scientists also cite promising results in the use of probiotics for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Probiotics have also been used for treating diarrhea, particularly when caused by antibiotic use, but also when caused by contaminated food or intestinal infection.
“The Immunomodulatory Effects of Lactic Acid Bacteria for Improving Immune Functions and Benefits” by Y. T. Tsai et al., Appl Microbiol Biotechnol, 9/23/12
“Probiotics: Looking Underneath the Yogurt Label” by Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times, www.nytimes.com, 9/29/09
“Review Article: Probiotics for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome—Focus on Lactic Acid Bacteria” by G. Clarke et al., Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2/12
“When Can Probiotics Help?” by Peter Jaret, WebMD, www.webmd.com, 6/9/10