Do you need a Probiotic?

By writing a short paper for my Microbiology class on how nutrition and microbiology are correlated, I developed an interesting post! Read on for information about Probiotics!

Research is skewed on whether or not taking probiotics are actually beneficial. Research does however indicate that gut microflora is affected by many medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and corticosteroids. Gut microflora?!?! What is that? The gut contains microorganisms (bacteria) that aid in many biochemical functions in the body such as digestion, training the immune system and defending the body against some diseases/pathogens. Basically, you need the “good” bacteria to ward off the growth of “bad” bacteria!

The main reason supplementation of probitoics has not been thoroughly proven is because there are no set guidelines on how to measure the benefits of probiotics or how much is safe to take per day. Probiotics are also widely abundant in yogurt with “live and active cultures.” The main strains are Lactobacillus (acidophilus) and Saccoharmyces bouldardii (bifidobacteria). These are the strains that have been shown to help avoid infections, reduce yeast overgrowth in the gut, aid in digestion, and enhance immunity.

If you have ever taken medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills, or corticosteroids, especially long term, chances are your gut microflora may be unbalanced. If you are experiencing any type of digestive discomfort, you should speak with your doctor about trying probiotics first to see if they are safe for you.

IBS sufferers may greatly benefit from probiotics! It is all about finding what is safe and what works for you!

  1. Ezendam, J, & Loveren, H. (2006). Probiotics: immunomodulation and evaulation of safety and efficacy. Nutrition Reviews, 64(1), 1-14.
  2. Edwards, C. (2003). Interactions between nutrition and the intestinal microflora. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 52(1), 375-382.
  3. Turner, N. (2005). Probiotics or prebiotics. Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition, (277), 50-51.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Wallace
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 15:20:57

    Great article! I know I’ve had discussions related to gut flora and artificial sweeteners like Splenda. I’ll have to dig up the research again but our professor had talked about Splenda destroying the ‘good’ flora and actually causing weight gain- not what a lot of people who consume Splenda want if they are avoiding calories! Speaking of, they were giving away a free and interesting blend of probiotics today on campus- I will share the bottle with you. Guidelines would be nice!


    • ash307
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 15:46:21

      I agree! I think they need to give guidelines as well. Even though they are sold in supplement form, an RDA would be nice:)

      Giving away probiotics! That is cool? What name brand? Let me know if you find more info about the artifcial sweeteners. You told me about that before and I thought it was highly interesting as well!


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