Digestive Health Healthy Living

Good morning, probiotics: What these “good bacteria” can do for you

Probiotics — you may have seen this word on your yogurt or smoothie labels. These “good bacteria” have gained popularity in recent years, but do you really know what they can do for you?

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, often either the same as or similar to those found naturally inside of us. Our bodies contain many types of useful bacteria that actually help our bodily systems function properly.

Probiotics are typically found in food such as yogurt or fermented drinks. They are also sometimes sold as dietary supplements in pill form or even as a cream for the skin.

What’s all the fuss about?

Evidence suggests probiotics may relieve diarrhea, ease irritable bowel syndrome and reduce symptoms of eczema. There’s even some evidence that they may reduce the severity of colds and flu.

However, it’s important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any health claims for probiotics. Scientists are still studying the effects of probiotics and how they may help fight off certain harmful bacteria.

“There are billions of bacteria inside the colon,” said Dr. Satish Rao, gastroenterologist at the Augusta University Digestive Health Center. “It is believed that an imbalance in these bacteria may cause gastrointestinal symptoms and diseases, but probiotics may help to restore this balance. The great thing is that most people who use probiotics experience zero side effects or have very mild gastrointestinal issues such as gas. However, those who are pregnant, nursing or have underlying health concerns should consult their health care provider about any new supplements or complementary health approaches.”

The Augusta University Digestive Health Center partners the latest technology with a multidisciplinary team under one roof so patients and families can benefit from a single, convenient location dedicated to their ongoing digestive health. Schedule an online appointment or call 706-446-GUTS (4887) to speak to a member of our digestive health team.

About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.