Q: What are probiotics?
A: Probiotics are live micro-organisms (mainly bacteria but also yeasts) which are thought provide numerous health benefits. In order to provide these health benefits, probiotics need to be able to survive the acidic environment of the stomach. They also need to be eaten in adequate quantities.
Q: Should I take probiotics? Are they safe?
A: Because probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that naturally exist in the digestive tract, there are no major risks associated with their use. Probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria while discouraging the growth of harmful microorganisms.
Q: What are the proven health benefits of probiotics?
There is a good deal of scientific evidence suggesting that probiotics are effective for gastrointestinal problems including :
- Diarrhea: Specifically antibiotic associated diarrhea
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Ulcerative Colitis, Pouchitis and Crohn’s Disease
- Food Intolerance
- Helicobacter pylori infection.
Research also suggests that probiotics can inhibit tumors, improve immune function and reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Q: When is the best time to take probiotics?
A: The recommended time to take a probiotic capsule is before your morning breakfast with a glass of water.
Q: How should the probiotic be stored after opening?
A: It’s best to place the bottle in a refrigerator after opening to keep the bacteria strains ‘healthy’ and prolong their viability and efficacy.
Q: Are all probiotics the same in terms of their health benefits?
A: No, different strains can have different effects. Therefore if you want to try a probiotic for a specific complaint be sure to select the specific strain that has been proven to help your particular condition.
Q: How can I add probiotics to my diet?
A: You can add probiotics to your diet either by eating probiotic foods (including beverages) or by taking probiotic supplements. Generally speaking, probiotic supplements usually contain higher numbers of probiotic organisms than probiotic foods.
Q: What side-effects should I expect when starting probiotics?
A: You may experience symptoms of bloating, flatulence (gas), abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea in the first few days of probiotic therapy. These symptoms occur as your digestive system rebalances in favor of the good bacteria. The symptoms should subside after a few days. However, if they persist, then you can always reduce your dosage and ramp back up slowly.
Q: Are probiotics safe for children?
A: Yes, both probiotic foods and supplements are safe for children. There is a wide range of probiotic supplements which are suitable for children.