“Probiotics” (meaning “for life”) is the name given to microorganisms that live in our bodies—primarily in the intestines—keeping balance, cleaning the liver, and fighting infection.
The digestive system is not to be trifled with; everyone knows what it feels like when things down there don’t go well. “Gut health” is a term often used to describe how well your digestive system is operating. Optimizing gut health is crucial to living and feeling well.
Unfortunately, as is evident with the proliferation of disorders involving the digestive system (irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal [acid] reflux, Chron’s disease, and cancers to name a few), our lifestyle and diet have proven detrimental to its regular workings.
The good news is that returning to a healthful diet can reverse or impede negative effects and damage. Probiotics have been successful in correcting inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, and food allergies; in addition, encouraging research into their prohibitive effects on colorectal cancer is ongoing.
In an effort to maintain digestive health, probiotic supplements have emerged and become very popular. The probiotics you buy in a bottle are bacteria cultured in a laboratory.
Most of them contain additives to preserve the bacteria or make them easier to pour or measure from the bottle.
Be wary of store-bought supplements: some contain additives like maltodextrin from genetically-modified corn and manufacturers are not required to list fillers on the labels.
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If you supplement, look specifically for organic cultures. Adding pill or powdered supplements of any kind poses questions of efficacy and dosage.