We’ve heard about the different forms of antibiotics and how they treat infection and illnesses, but what do we use to prevent those exact complications? The answer is probiotics. Probiotics are the “good bacteria” you’ve heard about, but weren’t sure if they were actually real. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms” that can “confer a health benefit on the host.”

A standard human GI tract contains more than 500 species of probiotic bacteria that helps build immunity, break down food, and fight off pathogens. They can heal the tracts of a person’s digestive system, often times treating symptoms such as stomach flu, diarrhea, even skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis.

Some studies show they can even benefit mental health.

According to various medical sources, probiotics are not harmful to the body like antibiotics are. Antibiotics and prescription medications add chemicals to the body and wreak havoc on the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria. Probiotics are used to offset those medications. They can be found in food and supplements that build cultures in our digestive tracts.

Trillions of probiotics live inside of us, battling toxins without us being aware of them. There are actually more than 3 pounds of probiotics protecting us from within right now! According to Dr. Joseph Sturino, a Texas A&M health researcher, “Some strains are going to be really good at doing one thing, and others are going to be good at doing another.”

Ten benefits of probiotics in children and adults:

  1. According to the Cleveland Clinic, eating probiotics in food helps lower the number of bad, inflammatory bacteria in your digestive system and thus prevent illness.
  2. Probiotics assists in stabilizing the balance between good and bad bacteria especially after taking antibiotics, which kills both good and bad strains.
  3. Along with traditional natural remedies like vitamin C, garlic, and ginger, probiotics are defensive to fighting off cold and flu.
  4. There is evidence to prove probiotics are safe and effective in treating diarrhea in children. They regulate constipation too!
  5. Probiotics reduce IGE- associated eczema and reduce outbreaks such as hay fever, asthma, and food allergies if taken over a long period of time.
  6. Researchers at the American Heart Association recently discovered that taking daily doses of probiotics lowered bad cholesterol by 12%
  7. A study by the International Journal of General Medicinefound that the probiotic BLIS K12 prevents throat infection, which also prevents bad breath.
  8. Studies on probiotics and mental health suggest that a certain strain can actually stabilize depression and improve a person’s mood.
  9. Probiotic therapy has value in treating Klebsiella infection in children.
  10. Probiotic strains from breast milk are proven to be superior to antibiotics in the treatment of infectious mastitis.

After reading just a fraction of the endless benefits of probiotics, you’re probably wondering, “Where can I get them?” Good news for you, it’s becoming easier to find probiotics for your diet. In addition to supplements, they live in bioactive yogurts such as natural Greek yogurt, as well as fermented foods, cultured drinks, and even chocolate! Many of these sources contain billions of probiotics in a single serving.

These sources can be found at the grocery store, but you can also make them from scratch in your very own home! As this method of treatment is still developing in research, probiotics are not regulated as drugs by the FDA. Now that you know what probiotics are and what they can do for you, it’s up to you to lead the way!