You've probably seen them at the store, sitting innocently on a shelf in the pharmaceutical aisle. You may have even eaten some today.
And you definitely already have some in your body, whether you realize it or not.
But what are probiotics, really?
These strange little microbes have taken the market by force, and rightfully so; the bacteria comes with a wide range of health benefits.
So you want in.
But where do you start? You don't even know the best time to take probiotics. Or which kind to buy.
Instead, take a breath and follow us, Grasshopper.
When we're done, those little microbes will be your loving and caring minions. We will show you the way.
Micro-organisms outnumber the human cells in the body 10 to 1. They are found in nearly every part of the body, defending it against pathogens, boosting the immune system and even aiding in digestion.
These small, living organisms are very useful.
Probiotics are a type of microbe, a bacteria and yeast to be exact. While researchers have only recently mapped out the healthy microbial makeup of individuals, they are still discovering how these little beings work.
What we do know is that probiotics are helpful in the gut, especially in terms of digesting food. They are suspected to be behind several important tasks:
As you can see, they have many professions.
There are three major types, but many more strains exist.
Don't let the mind-numbing names overwhelm you; look on the labels of supplements to see which strains are in the probiotics you are considering, as most contain several types.
Because of the plethora of health effects they offer, many strains are now being used to treat a wide array of health issues.
Although doctors and researchers are still studying potential ways the bacteria can be used in other categories, commonly treated conditions typically target digestive issues:
Because we've only recently begun deciphering the complexities of microbes, the risks are still being evaluated. However, most doctors and scientists agree that a healthy individual is typically not harmed by taking probiotics.
In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health claims that side effects are rare and mild.
However, ill individuals are encouraged to discuss any thoughts on probiotics with their doctors.
A common misconception is that probiotic supplements should be taken like any other pill. However, how to take probiotics properly requires a bit more consideration.
Because the supplements contain sensitive bacteria, it is optimal to take them with meals. Not only does this help minimize damage to the bacteria from stomach acids, but it also gives the organisms better chances of survival.
However, depending on what is being treated, the best time to take probiotics (and the best type to take) may differ.
So here's the lowdown on how to use probiotics.
"The problem is that antibiotics have a lot of collateral damage - they don't just target that one pathogenic bacterium that they are prescribed to eliminate," says Dr. Geoffrey Preidis of Baylor College of Medicine and Houston's Texas Children's Hospital.
Indeed, antibiotics can wreak havoc upon the balance of bacteria in the gut.
That's where probiotics leap into the fray.
They can help restore the balance and even eliminate antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). In a 2012 study, it was discovered that probiotics decreased AAD by half.
If you are taking probiotics to negate the negative effects of antibiotics, look for forms of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or Saccharomyces boulardi.
According to the NCBI, L. rhamnosus GG (LGG) and S. boulardii were the most beneficial in thwarting antibiotic-related issues. Take supplements six hours after ingesting your antibiotics.
Probiotics may help with that, too.
Studies have found that if you have a happy liver, you may have a healthier sleep cycle.
That means you get the snoozes you deserve.
If you are experiencing sleeping issues, take a multi-strain probiotic supplement or eat a food containing the bacteria 30 minutes before bed.
Certainly one of the most common ailments treated with probiotics, digestion issues are a plague upon mankind, affecting over 70,000,000 people each day.
Probiotics can help with a range of problems originating in this system, from IBS to cramping.
It's also important to keep in mind that the gut may seem like a distant, far-off country isolated from the rest of your organs, but it's not. It's quite crucial for overall health.
Therefore, if you take probiotics for digestive issues, you're also promoting a healthier you in general.
All three major types of probiotics can aid in digestive issues; they should be taken daily with meals.
We all feel yucky now and again. When this happens, it's important to give your body a helpful leg-up.
Probiotics can do just that.
By promoting healthy bacteria and batting away the bad, it boosts your body's health. Furthermore, about 70% of the cells associated with immunity are found . . .
In your gastrointestinal tract.
Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus plantarum are useful here, as they boost the body's defense against harmful bacteria.
So when is the best time to take probiotics?
It really just depends, but the general rule of thumb is to take supplements with food.
Now that you're equipped with all the fancy know-how, it's time to get healthy. Take a peek at our collection of probiotics today and find which type is right for you.