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Probiotics: What Are They? Should I? Shouldn’t I?

We all have bacteria and other microorganisms in our gut or gastrointestinal systems. They normally live in our stomachs and intestines. We actually could not live without them. The good bacteria help us digest food, fight off infections, and aid in our absorption of important nutrients such as Vitamin B12. We also have bad bacteria and other microorganisms in our digestive tract. The probiotics in our gut keep a healthy balance by constantly keeping our system in check.



Sometimes the bad bacteria take over and cause illnesses such as C. difficile( C.diff) diarrhea (a very bad bacteria.) This usually occurs after a person takes an antibiotic, and the antibiotic fights off the bad bacteria as intended but also knocks out some of the good bacteria whose job is to keep the c. diff bacteria in check. The c. diff then overtakes the system causing the illness until it’s identified and treated. This is why your physician may recommend probiotics when he or she prescribes antibiotics to you. I recommend taking a probiotic during any antibiotic treatment and continuing with the probiotic for one week after the course of antibiotics is completed.

There may be other benefits of taking a probiotic though it’s still early in the game, and we need more information from clinical trials to determine the proven benefits. That being said, there have been a few small trials (*see below for study citations) that are indicating possible benefits of taking probiotics for those with irritable bowel syndrome, allergic rhinitis (hay fever,) travelers diarrhea (Montezuma’s Revenge!,) inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s Disease, preventing yeast infections in women, helping fight skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and possibly in helping to prevent the flu and colds.

Some of the studies supporting the statements above:


Some patients have asked me about taking probiotics regularly as part of their regimen to promote good gut health. If you are planning to use probiotics for gut health  It is important to note that several types of probiotics are on the market with different microbes. You can also find healthy probiotics in live cultures, such as yogurt. Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium are the most common probiotics that aid digestion and healthy immunity. Many different strains of these species also help in different areas, so it’s important to investigate them more and always read labels. Be sure sure to look on reputable medical and health sites when doing your research.

I suggest discussing the benefits and possible risks in taking long-term probiotics with your physician before starting any regimen.


Medical Disclaimer
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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Dr. Kulka

Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.

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