Excessive Immune Stimulation In Susceptible Individuals
Because probiotics have been shown to affect both the innate and adaptive immune systems, including effects on cytokine secretion and dendritic cell function , concern has been raised about the potential to overly stimulate the immune response in some individuals, possibly leading to autoimmune phenomena or inflammation. This theoretical concern has not been reported in any human subjects.
Are Probiotics Safe For Kids Heres What You Need To Know
You may have passed them in the health food aisle at your local grocery store or seen a reference to them in your favorite healthy living blog probiotics.
Many adults use these supplements to help regulate their digestive systems. Some claim that probiotics can help with conditions like eczema and even yeast infections.
But probiotics dont always work the same for children.
Probiotics are useful for keeping your digestive tract healthy, says Dr. Joy Drass, pediatrician at Geisinger Port Matilda. But its important to know which probiotics you can give to your child, since they may not work the same way they do in adults.
What Is The Rationale Behind Taking Probiotics With Antibiotics
Taking an antibiotic for an infection can kill beneficial bacteria that live in your gut.
Probiotics may be taken orally to restore any imbalance in the normal intestinal or urogenital flora. This is the rationale behind taking probiotics with antibiotics. Severe antibiotic-induced diarrhea can also lead to an infection with Clostridium difficile, also known as C. difficile, a bacteria which can cause dangerous inflammation in your colon .
Experts have hypothesized that If you suffer from stomach cramping, gas or diarrhea when you take antibiotics, adding a probiotic may help to lessen, or even prevent, these symptoms. The addition of a probiotic will also reintroduce helpful bacteria into your digestive tract that have been killed or had their numbers reduced by the antibiotic.
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Does It Matter What Type Of Probiotics You Take
Typically, the strains promoted for treating vaginal or yeast infections are from the lactobacillus family: lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus rhamnosus, and lactobacillus reuteri.
Dr. Chang-Jackson says there is no specific strain she would recommend other than the ones commonly marketed to women needing vaginal flora support. She does, however, remind patients to be aware of the limitations of probiotics.
Many of the probiotics that are sold arent cleared by the FDA, so just like with any supplement, you have to take it with a grain of salt, she says.
Before you take any medication or supplement when pregnant, discuss it with your provider first.
How Should I Take Probiotics With Antibiotics
If you do decide to take a probiotic with an antibiotic, start it the same day you start the antibiotic, but do not take it at exactly the same time as the antibiotic. Allow at least two hours to elapse after taking your antibiotic before you take your probiotic.
Probiotics are usually taken twice a day on an empty stomach. They should then be continued for at least several weeks after your course of antibiotics has finished, although some people take probiotics daily to not only continue to help digestion but to boost their immune system and enhance the absorption of some nutrients.
If you wish to take probiotic supplements, choose a high-quality probiotic made by a reputable company that contains at least one of the following: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Saccharomyces boulardii, or Bifidobacterium sp. at 5 to 40 billion colony units/day.
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Do Prebiotics Help Return The Gut Microbiome To Normal
Prebiotics are foods for probiotics and include fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, cereals.
Mixing prebiotics with probiotics, such as yogurt with fruit and cereal or sauerkraut with a vegetable stir fry could be helpful for your gut, although there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Good prebiotic foods include vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onions, and any green vegetable fruits such as bananas, berries, and tomatoes herbs such as chicory or garlic grains like barley, oat, and wheat and other fibers such as inulin that may be available on its own or added to foods such as granola bars, cereal, and yogurt.
Scientific Guidelines For Testing
First, probiotics must be alive when administered. One of the concerns throughout the scientific literature resides in the viability and reproducibility on a large scale of observed results for specific studies, as well as the viability and stability during use and storage, and finally the ability to survive in stomach acids and then in the intestinal ecosystem.
Second, probiotics must have undergone controlled evaluation to document health benefits in the target host. Only products that contain live organisms shown in reproducible human studies to confer a health benefit may claim to be probiotic. The correct definition of health benefit, backed with solid scientific evidence, is a strong element for the proper identification and assessment of the effect of a probiotic. This aspect is a challenge for scientific and industrial investigations because several difficulties arise, such as variability in the site for probiotic use and mode of application.
Third, the probiotic candidate must be a taxonomically defined microbe or combination of microbes ” rel=”nofollow”> strain level). It is commonly admitted that most effects of probiotics are strain-specific and cannot be extended to other probiotics of the same genus or species. This calls for a precise identification of the strain, i.e. genotypic and phenotypic characterization of the tested microorganism.
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Taking Too Many Probiotics Can Cause Mild Discomfort
Taking more than a usual dose 1 to 10 billion colony forming units of probiotics doesn’t necessarily mean better results and, instead, might provoke some mildly uncomfortable side effects.
“Some research has shown that using more bacteria may, in fact, counteract . If the bacteria get to the food before us, they can turn it into gas,” says Farhadi. On top of excess gas, you might experience bloating or a generally upset stomach. Diarrhea can also occur, but that’s about as bad as it gets.
Side effects, most commonly gas, may also occur when someone first starts taking probiotics, as their gut may experience some changes in bacteria levels. Usually, though, if someone is taking an average dose, these side effects should wear off soon, once the body adjusts.
Why Take Probiotics When Expecting
While probiotics are often touted as miracle supplements for people with digestive disorders or chronic GI distress, Dr. Chang-Jackson says their most common use in pregnancy is actually for maintaining the vaginal flora, not for curing stomach ills.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, as well as constipation, are due to hormonal changes,” she explains. “So probiotics might not have as much of an effect .
However, pregnant women are more susceptible to vaginal and yeast infections than non-pregnant women. Taking probiotics can help preserve the balance of the vaginal microbiome, may prevent the occurrence of infections, and can reduce the need for prescription medication to treat vaginal infections.
Patients dont usually know much about them, but we do tell ones with recurring vaginal infections that they can add probiotics to their routine, Dr. Chang-Jackson adds.
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Taking Care With Probiotic Supplements
Having a healthy collection of bacteria in your gut promotes digestion and nutrient absorption which boosts your health. This beneficial flora also helps keep harmful strains at bay, which protects you from unpleasant illness or infection. Because your natural gut community depletes with age, taking a supplement is generally a good idea.
One of the main reasons for taking probiotics is to replace those lost during a course of antibiotics. As great as these medications are for eliminating pathogenic bacteria, they also wipe out the beneficial ones too.
The problem with this is that probiotic supplements actually delay what your body would do naturally. As a living community, your gut bacteria would regenerate and replenish on its own, and probiotic supplements have been found to interfere.
There are also some cases where probiotics do not help because not all individuals react the same way to taking them. Studies have found that when taking a probiotic supplement, some bodies do not welcome them and they end up being excreted.
The benefits are never felt because the probiotics never get the opportunity to hang out in the gut where they are needed. Through trial and error, you should evaluate if your body will accept help from probiotics.
Probiotics, for the most part, are generally safe but certain individuals may need to avoid them. If you have a weakened or compromised immune system, the presence of excess bacteria can cause infections.
When Should Someone Not Take Probiotics
Probiotics are some of the safest natural supplements available, and have very few contraindications. There are a few groups of people who we recommend exercise a degree of caution when they are considering supplementation with live cultures, an example of which is people who are immunosuppressed , and people with dark blood in their stools. Under these circumstances, it would be wise to seek the advice of a GP before considering probiotic supplementation. In fact if ever in doubt, always speak to your doctor about any health supplements. For more information see our contraindications FAQ.
With regards to medications and natural remedies, there are no known contraindications. The only point to take in to account here is if a supplement has antibacterial or anti-fungal properties. If it does, like garlic for example, then it is recommended that you take the probiotic at least a couple of hours either side of the other supplement, so as not to damage the bacteria. But with regards to safety, probiotics can be taken alongside all natural remedies without any problem.
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Should You Take Probiotics
The “good bacteria” may help healthy people but aren’t formally recommended.
Probiotics are “good” bacteria touted to help maintain digestive health and boost the immune system. You can take them in a dietary supplement or get them from food sources, such as yogurt. But should you? They can be helpful in some cases, but we still need more studies to tell us if and when they are safe and effective for older adults.
How Might Probiotics Work
Probiotics may have a variety of effects in the body, and different probiotics may act in different ways.
- Help your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your bodyâs community of microorganisms return to a healthy condition after being disturbed
- Produce substances that have desirable effects
- Influence your bodyâs immune response.
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The Health Benefits Of Daily Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial microbes that help with digestion, keep your gut microbiota balanced, and can help fight off harmful bacteria. These bacteria can be found in some foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt, and can also be obtained through supplements.
Choosing your probiotic is important because the quality differs and there are many strains of probiotics that provide different effects within your gut. Certain probiotic strains also work in teams. The quality of the probiotic also matters. Thats why its best to find a probiotic that has been studied for the specific health benefit you are looking for, is rooted in extensive research and testing, and made up of clean ingredients
The three most studied probiotic strains are the bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and a yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii.
- Nutrient absorption, including some vitamins and minerals
- Support for your immune system
How Does The Vaginal Ecosystem Get Out Of Whack
Think of the vaginal microbiome as a rainforest: a unique ecosystem teeming with microscopic life including bacteria, viruses and yeast. For many premenopausal women, the dominant microbes are certain species of a bacterial group called Lactobacillus. Other members of this group live in the gut and ferment dairy products like yogurt and cheese.
But the Lactobacillus in the vagina are special. Theyve likely adapted over thousands of years to digest sugars shed by vaginal cells and spew out lactic acid, creating a mildly acidic environment that is inhospitable to bacterial invaders. This helps form a crucial barrier between you and not-you, protecting your reproductive tract from infection and disease.
Lots of things can disrupt vaginal Lactobacilli, including antibiotics, menstruation, douching, certain sexually transmitted infections and semen. When Lactobacilli numbers fall, other bacteria or yeast normally present in the vagina can overgrow, causing various types of imbalance.
One of the most common states of imbalance is bacterial vaginosis an ecosystem shift away from Lactobacillus and toward a diversity of other bugs that thrive in low-oxygen environments. Its telltale signs include itchiness around the vulva, a thin gray-white discharge and a fishy odor. B.V. can also make you more susceptible to S.T.I.s like chlamydia, gonorrhea and H.I.V., and has been associated with preterm birth.
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Is There An Alternative To Taking Probiotics
Of course, there is. There is a wide range of dietary supplements that are made to supplement the beneficial bacteria already present in the body.
These supplements come in a variety of forms, so be sure to do some research before making your selection. Most of them are pretty much the same but be sure to read up on them as well to make sure that they are safe to take long term.
The next time you are faced with the question, Are probiotics safe to take long term? , try thinking about probiotics. If you are not taking them then you are not getting the benefits you could if you were. It is really that simple. Just use probiotics to keep your digestive health strong and healthy and you will be amazed at how great you feel!
You may also be asking yourself, What if I take them for just a few days and then I need to take them longer? That is a great question and its one that I hear all the time.
If you were to take the maximum amount recommended for a day, it would take you till you reach your eight-year-old birthday! That is how quickly you can build up an excessive amount of bacteria in your system.
That is why I always recommend trying probiotics as a long-term solution to any kind of diarrhea issues you may be experiencing.
Benefits To Bacterial Support
Probiotics have become increasingly popular in recent years because of the impact they have on gut health. Probiotics promote efficient digestion and nutrient absorption.
Beneficial bacteria help to digest the food that reaches your gut and further break it down, so you can absorb as much nutrition as possible. Their activities release important fatty acids and vitamins that are essential to your health.
These helpful microorganisms also protect you from inflammation. When your gut is out of balance, inflammation occurs as well as damage to the intestines.
Leaky gut syndrome is a common result of poor gut health and results in damaged intestinal walls that can allow the escape of toxins into your bloodstream. Your immune system targets these traveling toxins, but this, unfortunately, leads to systemic inflammation and increased risk for disease.
The prevention or control of inflammation also allows probiotics to support weight loss. Research shows that inflammation and fat storage are strongly linked in what appears to be a vicious weight-gaining cycle.
Inflammation interferes with metabolism and signals your body to store fat cells. These fat cells release inflammatory markers further perpetuating inflammation. By reducing the inflammatory response by promoting a healthy gut, your body is in a better position to more effectively lose weight.
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Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions
There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.
However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.
Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:
- Upper respiratory infections .
How Can I Promote Probiotics Naturally In My Child
If your child is a newborn or infant, breastfeeding is the best way to provide probiotics. Breastmilk contains probiotics and prebiotics from the mother as well as human milk oligosaccharides . These specialized carbohydrates only appear in human breast milk and act as “prebiotic,” encouraging healthy bacteria growth. If you don’t breastfeed, some formulas are now including probiotics and HMOs to help build a baby’s microbiome.
If your child is older, encourage a diet of healthy, unprocessed foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables and yogurt all help promote better gut health and health in general. Your child should avoid fatty foods or sugary beverages that not only hurt gut health but overall health. See more probiotic foods to promote gut health.
Additionally, make an effort to limit your child’s exposure to oral antibiotics, which can kill off good bacteria in your child’s gut. Before asking for antibiotics always make sure your child has a bacterial infection, not a viral infection. A pediatrician will help make this decision for you.
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Is There Anything I Should Take Or Do To Ensure My Vaginal Microbiome Is Healthy
In the future, there may be research-backed ways to strengthen the vaginas bacterial defenses, possibly by combining effective probiotics with antibiotics or even by performing vaginal microbiome transplants.
But for now, experts simply dont know enough about the vaginal microbiome to be able to reliably shift it in the direction of better health. So while vaginal probiotics are unlikely to hurt you, they also arent likely to help you whether you have an infection or not. And unless youre actively ailing, the best way to maintain optimal feminine balance is also the simplest: Dont do anything special. And certainly dont spend money on unproven treatments for your most intimate of landscapes.
Women have enough things in this world to worry about, Dr. Hillier said. The bottom line is that its the doorway to your reproductive tract. Treat it with respect, and love it.
Rachel E. Gross is a science writer based in Brooklyn and the author of Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage.