Bad bacteria can negatively impact your health in a number of ways. While most bad bacteria can be dealt with by taking medications, most drugs aren’t able to differentiate bad bacteria from the good bacteria that your digestive system needs to help break down foods, support your balance of healthy bacteria, and promote a healthy immune system.
According to scientists at The Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit health care organization, probiotic supplements could help replenish the good bacteria in your digestive system that are eliminated by some medications.
A Delicate Digestive Balance
The digestive system is a mini ecosystem within your body populated by good and bad bacteria. Harmful bacteria may enter your system through environmental exposure or ingestion, but the good bacteria that aid digestion usually overpower these bad bacteria.
Researchers found that people who have taken medications are more susceptible to a type of bacterium called Clostridium difficile, which can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach discomfort. However, after reviewing data from 23 clinical trials involving 4,213 patients, they found that only 2% of patients who were given probiotics developed C. difficile-associated digestive symptoms.
Probiotics May Provide a Preemptive Strike
Dr. Bradley Johnston, who was part of the Cochrane research team, stated that evidence supported the theory that probiotics may be useful in promoting healthy digestion after administering medications. In his opinion, “Implementing the appropriate dose and strains of probiotics in hospitals could provide cost savings and improve quality of life.”
The review also showed that probiotics caused fewer unwanted side effects than the placebos, such as stomach discomfort and nausea.
Although the study authors noted that additional research needed to be conducted to find out which probiotic strains worked best for specific symptoms, growing evidence shows that probiotics are not only useful against warding off bad bacteria, but are useful to everyday health as well.
Good Bacteria Comes in Many Forms
There are a number of probiotic supplements currently available such as yogurt, probiotic shakes, and tablets. Some of the newer tablets feature a special coating designed to dissolve in your large intestine so that the good bacteria are protected from your stomach acids on their way to your digestive system. Whatever form you choose, probiotics can be a valuable daily addition to your diet for continued good health.
- Jaret P. The Best Ways to Use Probiotics. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/best-probiotics-use
- Mundasad S. Probiotics “may help when on antibiotics” study says. BBC News. 31 May, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22717273