Quick, name some of your daily wellness habits. Flossing? Sunscreen? Frequent hand washing? How about taking a probiotic?
If probiotics aren’t on your everyday to-do list yet, we’ve got four compelling reasons to consider adding them.
- You’re on antibiotics but, unfortunately, while the meds are fighting infection-causing bacteria, they are also killing good bacteria in your body; disturbing your microbial balance and contributing to antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Ugh, more than a third of patients taking antibiotics develop antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The good news is that taking probiotics can lower the risk. According to research in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people taking antibiotics who also use probiotics are 42% less likely to develop diarrhea.
- You’re trying to boost your immune system and ward of colds. If you can’t afford to get sick or are exposed to a lot of germs in your day-to-day life, you might consider a trial of probiotics to help boost your immune system. Experts at Harvard say that probiotics may be able to help reduce the number of colds you suffer annually. This is perhaps because probiotics secrete protective substances, which encourage the immune system to “turn on” and prevent illness-causing microorganisms from taking root.
- You’re prone to gas, bloating, constipation, or other bathroom issues. Specialists remind us that probiotics are commonly used to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and constipation. More research is needed to know exactly who is most likely to benefit from such probiotic usage but if your doctor says it’s safe for you to try probiotics, and gastrointestinal issues are plaguing you, a test run could be worthwhile. (For important information about who SHOULD NOT take probiotics, please see below.*)
- You’re yeasty down there. Up to 75% of fertile women will experience a yeast infection in her lifetime and some people tend to get recurrent yeast infections. If this is you, make sure you talk to your doctor about the situation, why it may be happening, and what to do about it. He or she may suggest a probiotic containing lactobacillus (like Florajen Women), which is normally found in the vaginal flora and helps to maintain normal pH levels and prevent yeast infections.
If you decide to add a probiotic to your daily regimen for help with digestion, women’s wellbeing, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or general health, experts encourage patience. Once you start, they say, give it about a month to see if it works for you. And, of course, don’t stop any medical treatment you’re already undergoing just because you’re trying a probiotic, and talk to your doctor about any health-related questions or concerns you may have.
*Harvard Medical School reports that probiotics are generally considered safe and to have no side effects. If there are side effects, they’re usually very mild (like a little more gas than usual) and should cease after a couple weeks of consistent use. For most people in good health, WebMD says probiotics won’t cause any issues; however, people who have an immune deficiency, are critically ill, recently had surgery, or are being treated for cancer should consult their doctor before using probiotics. Also be sure to talk to a pediatrician before giving probiotics to your baby, especially if he or she is sick. Florajen Kids, for example, is recommended for children over 6 months of age.
And please, don’t forget to floss.