A normal human digestive tract has about 400 different kinds of probiotics, which are bacteria that help maintain the normal balance of organisms in the intestines. Probiotics are found naturally in some foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and tempeh. There are also probiotic supplements on the market.
Eating foods that contain probiotics is good for your immune and digestive systems. It’s a good idea to incorporate these foods into your daily diet, especially if you have any gastrointestinal disorder, such as IBS or IBD. There are not bad side effects of probiotics, unless your immune system is compromised. The elderly, cancer patients and others who may be immunocompromised should consult with their healthcare provider before adding probiotics to their diet.
Probiotics can be helpful if you have experienced antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Taking antibiotics can wipe out the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics help that bacteria repopulate. They are also useful after experiencing a Clostridium difficile infection, something many patients with ulcerative colitis experience. Research findings on the effectiveness of probiotic supplements are lacking, but research is ongoing. One probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, has been shown effective in research. If you are evaluating probiotic supplements, you want one that has colony forming units in the billions. That information will be on the supplement’s label.