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Probiotics: Why eating bugs is good for your digestion

Before and After BMI

September 3, 2015

Probiotics: Why eating bugs is good for your digestion

Image of fruit and yogurt displaying the beauty and benefits of probiotics

We all know that yogurt is good for you, but why? One reason is that yogurt (and other fermented foods, such as miso, some juices and soy beverages) contain probiotics. What exactly are probiotics and how do they aid digestion? Once you get the answers to your questions, you can begin down the path to better digestion.

What are probiotics?

We usually think of bacteria as bad, but your intestines are full of good bacteria necessary for digestion. As WebMD explained, these good bacteria are called probiotics. They occur naturally in your body, and you can also find them in certain foods and supplements. Seeking sources of probiotics can help keep your gut healthy.

Are there different types of probiotics?

Many different types of bacteria are considered probiotics. They all offer digestive benefits, but the kind you should choose depends on your situation. WebMD states that most probiotics fit into one of two categories:

  • Lactobacillus is the most common type of probiotic. It’s the one found in yogurt and other fermented foods, and helps with diarrhea and lactose intolerance.
  • Bifidobacterium is found in some dairy products. It helps ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

What are the benefits of probiotics?

WebMD states that researchers still aren’t positive exactly how probiotics work. Still, here are some of the known benefits of probiotics:

  • They help move food through the digestive tract.
  • They facilitate the replacement of good bacteria when amounts are depleted by antibiotics.
  • They lower the amount of infection-causing bad bacteria in your intestines.
  • They balance the levels of good and bad bacteria to keep the digestive tract healthy.
  • According to Everyday Health, they even help ease symptoms of conditions not related to digestion, including eczema, vaginal infections, periodontal disease, allergies and more.

What are some probiotic side effects?

There are different species and strains of probiotics, along with different preparation methods, which means these good bacteria interact with people in different ways. In addition, the FDA doesn’t regulate probiotic supplements, so manufacturers don’t have to prove their products are effective.

Taking too many or the wrong kind of probiotics is probably still safe, but you may experience some side effects, including:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Allergic reactions

The best way to avoid probiotic side effects is to choose a supplement with your doctor’s guidance. He or she can help you choose the right strain and dosage for your digestive situation.

Who should take probiotics?

Because probiotics have only interested the general public since about the mid-90s, WebMD highlighted that researchers are still working to pinpoint which probiotics help certain digestive issues the most. Even so, people with the following conditions are likely to enjoy the benefits of probiotics:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Infectious diarrhea
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Cramping, gassiness and diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics

If you’re considering bariatric surgery (the duodenal switch procedure in particular), you should also know that probiotic supplements are commonly prescribed following the procedure to help keep your intestinal tract healthy. With years of experience and a long list of weight loss success stories to draw from, your doctor can prescribe the right probiotic supplement for your situation.

If you think bariatric surgery might be right for you, it’s time to meet with the San Antonio bariatric surgeons at BMI of Texas. We recognize that every patient is different and strive to cater to your individual needs.