Probiotics for Digestive Problems
You’ve heard about probiotics, right? The good bacteria in yogurt and some fermented foods. You could even find them in food supplements too. Probiotics, they’re being added to more and more foods now and touted as solving a wide range of health problems, including digestive problems. So, what exactly are probiotics anyway? And how can they keep up with all the hype about them?
Probiotics are live cultures of beneficial bacteria added to foods, drinks, and supplements. Our bodies, in fact, have trillions of bacteria, most are beneficial. But because of medications, diet, stress, and unhealthy lifestyle, alteration in the balance of these bacteria can lead to infections and diseases. Imbalance in the intestinal flora happens more often than you might think. Upsetting the balance gives way for the spreading of harmful bacteria like C. difficile to cause severe diarrhea and other digestive problems.
Digestive problems that can be treated with probiotics
- Diarrhea from antibiotic treatment
Antibiotic kills the good microbe along with the microbe that causes the infection. This upsets the balance of the gut microbiome. As a result, you often experience having loose and watery stools.
Taking probiotic supplements has shown to greatly prevent diarrhea from antibiotics. Probiotics help restore the balance by repopulating the good bacteria more quickly. They’re now commonly prescribed for people who are taking antibiotics. They’re safe for most people and relatively inexpensive.
- difficile associated diarrhea
Probiotics help prevent and treat Clostridium difficile infection or CDI. It can also reduce the risk of diarrhea caused by C. difficile infections. Strains like L. casei, L. rhamnosus, B. lactis, S. cerevisiae, S. boulardii, and B. coagulans help lower the risk of C. difficile-associated diarrhea.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
People 1.6 million people in the US with inflammatory bowel disease suffer from extreme discomfort, pain, and many other symptoms. Examples of inflammatory bowel disease include:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
While the exact cause of IBD is not clear, imbalances in the intestinal microbiome and other factors contribute to its destructive force. Antibiotic treatment and anti-inflammatory medications can fight the infections brought by IBD flare-ups, but it comes at a cost. These drugs can have severe side effects and disrupt the balance of the microbiome. Studies have shown that probiotics can help prevent IBD flare-ups, but not in treating an attack. People who take probiotic supplements to enhance their gut health are less likely to suffer from IBD.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a type of digestive disorder that affects the large intestine. People with IBS have constipation, diarrhea, or both. Probiotic strains like B. Lactis, B. infantis, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, and S. boulardii may help ease bloating and reduce bowel movement.
- pylori infection
- pylori, a type of bacteria that causes gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Probiotic supplements stop the growth of H. pylori by secreting antibacterial substances and short-chain fatty acids such as lactic, acetic, and propionic acid. Long-term intake of probiotics may have favorable effects on H. pylori.