Some of the most popular natural remedies at vitamin stores these days are probiotics. “For life” is the literal translation of the Greek-derived term probiotic, and serves as a pretty good description of their function and benefits as well. Probiotics are the polar opposites of antibiotics, whose purpose is to kill harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, in the killing process, your good bacteria often gets wacked as well. In short, probiotics replace the good bacteria that you lose during these microbial murders.
A true probiotic supplement contains "good” strains of bacteria to help support digestive health as well as healthy immune system function, which often affects your quality of life. Yes, probiotics are no longer reserved for use only when digestive symptoms appear. As more people understand their value, probiotics are increasing in popularity as a proactive daily health maintenance routine. (Ask any teacher who works with a roomfull of sneezing children.)
So what defines a true probiotic? The incredible growth of probiotic products may seem like a good thing. Except a number of so-called probiotics fail to meet accepted criteria, such as strain identification, efficacy, and confirmation of beneficial and safe use. Or they may be formulated with strains of bacteria without an adequate amount of human research. In either case, you might not get the health benefit you expect.
So what about yogurt? In short, NO, eating a danon yogurt everyday is not going to replace all the friendly flora you may have lost from antibiotic use. Candida yeast infections, thrush, gastro-intestinal issues, and vaginitis are all possible negative side effects of antibiotics use.
Remember, different probiotic strains have unique benefits and are useful for specific applications to meet individual needs. For instance, there are probiotics that are designed specifically for women, there are probiotics designed to replace the "friendly flora" that may be lost after your dentist puts you on a antibiotic regimen anticipating dental work, and there are probiotics to protect both you and your children during the winter months. As I mentioned, schools are notorious breeding grounds for spreading viruses during flu season.
So take your probiotics, take your vitamin C, and take some of Doctor Steve's Triple Flu Defense, you'll be doing yourself a world of good.
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