Probiotics refers to the multitude of species of “good” bacteria found in the digestive tract and vagina. They are protective bacteria that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. In the intestines probiotics create an acidic atmosphere that discourages the growth of bad bacteria, molds, and candida, as well as aids digestion of food remnants.
The number of probiotics you have can be negatively affected by a regime of antibiotics, stress, or from substances such as fluoride (which is added to drinking water to protect your teeth but which some studies have suggested is detrimental to long term health), birth control pills, coffee or tea, preservatives, etc. Not having strong probiotic colonies in your body could result in poor digestive health (diarrhea or worse) a weakened immune system (colds, etc.) or, in women, yeast infections and worsened menstrual symptoms.
Keeping the number of probiotics strong is helpful in dealing with digestive diseases from canker sores, to irritable bowl symptoms, to enhancing your colon health and reducing bad breath. You might start by considering what foods contain probiotics. Yogurt is a well known source, but so are other fermented foods such as Eastern European kefir, Icelandic skyr, creme fraiche, and sauerkraut. If you are an adventurous eater there’s no reason not to see which you like. If you are lactose intolerant or vegetarian there are also versions available that are made from soy or coconut milk. When choosing a brand, make sure to look at the label or research the amount of probiotics in the product as different preparation methods can make the amounts vary. If you want to get the best probiotics level for you, note that you can always make them yourself. At home yogurt makers are widely available, for example, and creme fraiche can be made by mixing equal parts heavy and sour cream, letting them sit in a warm spot overnight, and then refrigerating it so that it thickens. The taste will get stronger the longer you have it. If researching how much good bacteria is in a product or making it yourself is too much work, there are always probiotics supplements.
Depending on what your specific concerns are, there are a variety of probiotic supplements to choose from. Flora MGR targets replenishing probiotics in the intestinal tract overall, which is especially handy if you have had recent stomach problems, whether caused by a food toxin, stress, or other substance.
If you want to focus on your lower tract, specifically your colon and your bowel movements, then consider Bowel MGRx, which focuses on healthier bowel movements (larger, softer stools and increased frequency).
If you are struggling with the yeast candida, CandidAss’t can help with controlling and limiting its growth. Candida is an aggressive form of yeast, commonly occurring in either the mouth or vagina, as well as the throat, gastrointestinal tract, and bladder. Itching and redness are common symptoms, and if caught early, it is not serious. However, see your doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.
Probiotics are a wonderful tool to help strengthen your digestive system and immune defenses. Whether from food or probiotics supplements, making sure your good bacteria are thriving is a great way to improve your health. Initial probiotic side effects may include mild gas and bloating, and if you have a weakened immune system you should consult your doctor before increasing the amount of probiotics in your system. Although there is very little research concerning the negative effects of probiotics, some have suggested it may be possible, in theory, to develop an infection if your immune system is already weakened or compromised.
By Emma Spera
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