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.
Who should take a probiotic?Katarzyna-Wojtasik/Shutterstock
The long and the short answer: Everyone, at any age, depending on what’s going on in their lives or body. Even when you’re feeling at the top of your game, it can be beneficial to take a probiotic, especially if you struggle with any of the things probiotics can help with. People on a special diet, like being gluten-free, can mean you’re missing out on some of the microorganisms—such as yeast—your gut craves, says Svetlana Kogan, M.D. and author of Diet Slave No More!. It’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about your goals while taking a probiotic, says Dr. Kogan, since most experts believe you shouldn’t be on them forever. “I recommend them only as a temporary intervention, together with healthy diet and lifestyle changes,” she explains. “This leads to a permanent healthy outcome, at which point the patient does not need to take anything anymore,” she explains. One time you should absolutely take probiotics? After an illness. Find out the benefits of probiotics after antibiotics.
You can get probiotic benefits from foodpuhhha/Shutterstock
People who don’t regularly struggle with gut issues can still benefit from probiotics—and you don’t have to take a pill. Do you often find yourself bloating following a meal or know that you have a hard time digesting certain foods? Before you decide to invest in a daily probiotic, consider adding probiotic-filled foods into your diet, Dr. Ayoob says. “Start with yogurt and kefir, which have live and active cultures, are minimally processed, and can be included in most diets” he says. “I also encourage people to eat more pre-biotic foods, which have different types of dietary fiber that feed the good bacteria in your body.” What does he recommend? “Some fantastic sources are onions, garlic, all fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.”