The Power of Probiotics

By Jamie Vallone, RD, CDN

Probiotics are microorganisms that reside in your digestive tract. Although harmful bacteria can make you sick, probiotics are often referred to as good bacteria as they help your gut function properly.

Although researchers aren’t positive how probiotics work, it is thought they work by controlling nerves in your GI tract that affect movement and helping to control harmful bacteria in your GI tract. Probiotics are often known for their treatment of bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome; however, some research suggests that probiotics may help with oral health and the treatment of eczema and urinary tract infections.

There are many different types of probiotics. The two that are most commonly used and found in food are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Probiotics are found in both foods and dietary supplements. Some foods that contain probiotics include:
• Yogurt
• Kefir
• Miso
• Kombucha
• Apple cider vinegar
• Sauerkraut
• Pickles

Although probiotics are generally considered safe for most people, there is a higher risk of infection for linked to people with weakened immune systems, and those recovering from serious illness or injury, as well as other health conditions.

Consult your doctor before taking probiotic food or supplements to see if they are right for you.