Probiotics and prebiotics
A family medicine doctor answers your burning questions about probiotics. Also: What are prebiotics?
HOT INGREDIENT Commonly known as “friendly bacteria,” probiotics have exploded in popularity in recent years. How can we get the best that these tiny organisms have to offer? We asked David Holland, MD, an integrative physician in El Paso, Texas. Holland is board-certified in family medicine and a diplomate of the American Board of Functional Medicine, a discipline that addresses the underlying causes of disease and includes nutritional therapy.
Who needs probiotics?
Everyone who has taken antibiotics at any time—even if it was only when they were infants or children—will benefit by taking probiotics. Antibiotics kill helpful bacteria as well as harmful ones, and the negative effects can linger indefinitely unless corrected. Intestinal symptoms such as indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, and constipation stem from an imbalance of gut organisms.
How do they work?
To maintain a healthy immune system, it’s vital to keep our intestinal tract healthy because that’s where 70 percent of our immune cells are. Probiotics populate throughout the intestines, where they aid in digestion and produce several beneficial byproducts. These include hydrogen peroxide, which helps control harmful intestinal yeast and reduces disease-causing bacteria in the body. By Vera Tweed
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