Probiotics are living microorganisms beneficial to the intestinal tract and immune system. They consist of bacteria and yeast and occur naturally in bodies. They help digestion, inhibit overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria, prevent inflammation, and detoxify certain enzymes, hormones, and drugs.

Probiotics create balance in a healthy digestive system. When balance is off-kilter due to illness, a course of antibiotics, a diet lacking in nutrient-dense foods, or the overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria, gastrointestinal problems can occur.

Finding quality sources increase their effectiveness in gut health. Quality products have diverse numbers of strains of bacteria and yeast. Look for a dosage of at least 4 billion live and active organisms per capsule. The probiotics should be packaged in a dark glass bottle or in opaque plastic and have an expiration date. Heat, sunlight, and moisture can kill active bacteria, it’s important to store them in a refrigerator.

Foods contain probiotics as well, but there is no guarantee of the amount you are getting. Find probiotics in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt, but the quality of the probiotics and their viability is unknown.

The typical American diet is lacking many essential nutrients and is chock-full of chemicals, preservatives, and fillers that cause gastrointestinal issues and inflammation. Taking at least 4 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day combats these problems. Probiotics should be taken with food twice daily and not with a hot liquid (hot liquids kill the bacteria).

Probiotics are considered safe, they are bio-identical to what already exists in the body. But, as with any drug or supplement, always tell your health care specialists what you are taking. Most importantly, eat a diet that is dense in nutrients and high in fiber; probiotics feed off of fiber and build colonies that will keep gut in a healthy balance.

DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.

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