GO­ING PRO

Pro­bi­otics are good for your gut, but what are they? We bust the com­mon myths around this help­ful sup­ple­ment

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - INSPIRE -

Your gas­troin­testi­nal tract is home to tril­lions of mi­crobes. This may sound scary, but many of them are ac­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. The ‘friendly bac­te­ria’, known as pro­bi­otics, not only aid in di­ges­tion, but also pro­tect your gut from in­fec­tions and help main­tain your over­all well-be­ing. How­ever, health prob­lems can arise when the gut’s ra­tio of good and harm­ful bac­te­ria goes out of whack; pro­bi­otic sup­ple­ments can help re­store this bal­ance. With so many prod­ucts on the mar­ket, how do you pick the best for you and your fam­ily? Know the science so you can make the right choices.

Myth 1: You can get all the pro­bi­otics you need from your diet.

While eat­ing fer­mented foods like yo­gurt, tem­peh and kim­chi can boost your body’s good bac­te­ria count, their con­tent of live cul­tures varies ac­cord­ing to how the foods are pre­pared. To match the doses in pro­bi­otic sup­ple­ments, you might need to eat a whole lot of fer­mented foods! Your op­tions may also be lim­ited if you’re sen­si­tive to lac­tose in dairy prod­ucts.

Myth 2: When it comes to pro­bi­otics, the more the mer­rier.

The strength of a pro­bi­otic sup­ple­ment is mea­sured in terms of bil­lions of units. The listed num­ber of live cul­tures in Op­tiBac’s probo­bi­otic sup­ple­ments (for ex­am­ple, 5 bil­lion in the For Daily Well­be­ing sup­ple­ment) is guar­an­teed until the end of the sup­ple­ments’ shelf life.

Still, quan­tity does not al­ways equate to ef­fi­cacy. The qual­ity of the strain or com­bi­na­tion of strains can be even more im­por­tant. In a 2015 study, re­searchers found that high-strength sup­ple­ments can be just as ef­fec­tive as low-strength ones in re­liev­ing con­sti­pa­tion.

Myth 3: You can’t take pro­bi­otics to­gether with an­tibi­otics.

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, an­tibi­otics do not al­ways can­cel out the ef­fects of pro­bi­otics. Some ro­bust strains, like Lac­to­bacil­lus aci­dophilus Rosell-52, can reach the gut alive even when taken at the same time as an­tibi­otics. Stud­ies also show that some pro­bi­otics can reduce your chances of get­ting an up­set stom­ach, a com­mon side ef­fect of an­tibi­otics.

Myth 4: All pro­bi­otics do the same thing.

The hu­man body hosts a great di­ver­sity of mi­croflora, and they have dif­fer­ent roles to play. Pro­bi­otics like Lac­to­bacilli help break down food in the small in­tes­tine, while Bi­fi­dobac­te­ria in the large in­tes­tine pro­mote regular bowel move­ments. For ladies, the Lac­to­bacil­lus rham­no­sus GR-1 strain also helps to main­tain a healthy bal­ance of bac­te­ria in the vagina.

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