Why I say ‘yes’ to probiotics

The word probiotic is derived from Latin, meaning ‘for life.’

“The history of probiotics goes parallel with the evolution of human race and, thanks to the sophisticated techniques at the moment, can be traced back to the ancient times, nearly 10,000 years ago.”*

One of my first introductions to probiotics was about thirteen years ago when a specialist doctor suggested I pick up refrigerated probiotics to combat the internal harshness of a prescribed antibiotic.

Several doctors have recommended probiotics since. From primary care doctors to surgeons, to experts I’ve interviewed for The Honest Migraine – I’ve been educated about the beneficial properties of probiotics. The unique thing about probiotics is that they need not be solely reserved for when taking an antibiotic as they can serve a positive purpose within your daily routine.

I have a handful of family members and friends who take them each morning. I know people who had never heard of them until the subject was broached. And I know others who take them upon inception of feeling under the weather.

What are probiotics? The National Institute of Health (NIH) explains, “Probiotics are live micro-organisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body.”** The common misinterpretation is that “bacteria and other microorganisms [are] harmful ‘germs,’ [yet] many are actually helpful.”**  They are helpful in producing vitamins, digesting food, and destroying disease-causing cells.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the beneficial properties of probiotics for our gut health. But, we have many areas that benefit from these good microbes. Probiotics benefit our urinary tract, skin, mouth, and lungs, to just name a few.

Off the top of my head, two reasons come to mind why probiotics are not as mainstream as I would hope: 1) They can be expensive, and 2) The education and knowledge of their benefits is not yet widespread.

Each of us has a different budget in the many categories of our daily life.

Why do the healthier items come with heftier price tags? And it comes down to process of elimination when items with beneficial properties are not on the ‘must buy’ list, but do aid in wellbeing (like probiotics).

I’m a person that focuses on a product itself. I’m not as attached to a particular retailer, or grocery chain.

When it comes to the nitty gritty of probiotics, my focus is drawn to the following nutrition facts on the bottle: the amount of live (healthy) bacteria cells per capsule, including the number of strains. I purchase a brand of probiotics with 3 billion live bacteria cells per capsule formulated with 10 strains of friendly bacteria.

What are the qualifiers for me to buy? It’s the nutrition facts and where they are grown/bottled/packaged. I opt to buy a drug store’s brand of probiotic. You’ve heard that many big brands actually fill and bottle through the seller’s brand, right?

I find probiotics to be immensely beneficial. Not only can the ones I purchase be stored at room temperature, which is perfect for travel, but they assist in overall digestive health, and help regulate the intestinal track. Many probiotics tend to be gluten, dairy and soy-free too.

One of the suspected first uses of probiotics in history was in 2000 BC when “man first discovered how to preserve milk for longer periods.”*  This was by transforming milk into fermented dairy products using yeasts and bacteria.

“People have used fermented products to recover from certain diseases for two principal reasons – they are very nutritive and contain live micro-organisms that are able to combat certain infections.”*

Today, the Cleveland Clinic informs that the “strongest evidence in favor of probiotics lies in the prevention or treatment of 5 disorders: necrotizing enterocolitis, acute infectious diarrhea, acute respiratory tract infections, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and infant colic.”***

Other individuals find that probiotics just help them maintain a balance in their overall health.

Even without a daily upset stomach or during a 14-day course of antibiotics, it’s nice to keep my internal system functioning at a healthy degree. By consuming probiotics, I am reassured that my natural body defenses are tip-top when it comes to encountering the unknowns.

I’ve never had an adverse reaction to probiotics, quite the opposite honestly. My stomach does not get nearly as upset as it has to antibiotics. Couple probiotics with plenty of water and it’s a win-win in my book.

I feel the pros outweigh the cons in this instance.

The Cleveland Clinic states, “Probiotics are part of a larger picture concerning bacteria and your body – your microbiome. Think of a microbiome as a diverse community of organisms, such as a forest, that work together to keep your body healthy.”****

Microbes make up this “community of organisms” and each of us have trillions of microbes on and in our body. “Microbes are a combination of bacteria, fungi (including yeasts), viruses, and protozoa.”****

No one’s microbiome is the same, even twins; isn’t that unique? We each have a unique make up.

Whether probiotics are new to the conversation for you, you’re a regular with them, or this post piques your interest enough to ask your medical provider about the benefit you might encounter in taking them – I wish you a healthy springtime!

I’d love to hear how probiotics have assisted in your wellbeing.

*The history of probiotics: the untold story, M. Ozen and E.C. Dinleyici, 2014


***Liu Y, Tran DQ, Rhoads JM. Probiotics in Disease Prevention and Treatment. J Clin Pharmacol. 2018 Oct;58 Suppl 10(Suppl 10):S164-S179. doi: 10.1002/jcph.1121. PMID: 30248200; PMCID: PMC6656559.



Coming next: Five people influence your personality, behavior 

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