Usually the chat about probiotics comes up pretty often. A lot of people are aware of probiotics, but aren't always clear on exactly what probiotics are or what they do. I like to explain what probiotics are and how they can help the health of the individual. Quite a few people know about probiotics from yoghurt or from an ad they saw on TV. However, very few of my patients really know how probiotics can help their specific health concern. This is a great opportunity to learn and take charge of their health and make informed decisions. So let me take this opportunity to try and explain what probiotics are and how they work.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are small bacteria that are used to increase and or replace the good bacteria already present in the body. They promote a healthy digestive tract and support defense mechanisms.
There are over 500 different strains of bacteria that live in your digestive tract. It is believed that there are 10X more bacteria in your body then there are normal cells. They combine to weigh roughly 1 kg. The genes from these organisms may be as much as 150 times larger than the total human gene content. That's a lot of bacteria!!
The 4 most dominant classes of bacteria are: Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria,and Actinobacteria.
There are many many different strains of probiotics for sale out there, each with a claim as to why that strain is the best (that is a whole different topic that should be discussed with your healthcare provider). It is believed that different strains of probiotics have different functions in the body.
How do probiotics work?
Probiotics have multiple functions in the body such as:
When can I use probiotics?
Probiotics can be useful in many scenarios, here are the most common situations:
Thats the simple explanation of what probiotics are and how they work. Before picking any probiotics, consult with your healthcare provider to find the best strains for you and your health needs.
Dr Landon McLean is a Naturopathic doctor accepting new patients in Whistler BC