What is a probiotic?RomarioIen/Shutterstock
Found in all sorts of foods and also available in pill packs, probiotics aren’t you’re typical supplement like a vitamin or mineral: They’re bacteria. Before you wrinkle your nose at that, remember they’re the “good” bacteria that can help keep the bacteria population your body in balance. Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when present in adequate amounts, may offer health benefits, says Tsippora Shainhouse, MD. “Some benefits of probiotics are that they may be able to help prevent and even treat some infections and illnesses and promote healthy digestion and perhaps, a healthy immune system,” she explains. Try adding these probiotic foods to your diet right now.
Why are there so many different types of probiotics?Trong-Nguyen/Shutterstock
If you know anything about bacteria, you probably know that you contain a multitude. The bacterial cells in your body outnumber your human cells by about 3 to 1 ratio, technically making you more bug than human. This fact also helps explain why your local pharmacy carries so many varieties of probiotics. Stare too long and you’ll likely wind up with a furrowed brow, wondering where you should even begin. Start with the U.S. Probiotic Guide to get a thorough look at the tons of different types of probiotics, advises Keith Ayoob, MD. It lists the hundreds of different bacteria cultures, capsules and varieties that are available.
What can probiotics do?NATTHAPONG-SUNTORNDECH/Shutterstock
Primarily known as a remedy for gut ailments, probiotics gained their reputation by helping people tame the diarrhea that follows a course of antibiotics or a trip to a country with sketchy water. There’s also interesting research suggesting that probiotics can tame irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic digestive issues, skin problems like eczema, and urinary and vaginal health problems; they may even promote healthy teeth and gums.