Probiotics

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Gastroenterology, Internal medicine


Clinical Definition

Probiotics are live microorganisms that may affect the host beneficially by improving intestinal microbial balance. While believed helpful, the role of probiotics, found in fermented dairy foods such as aged cheeses and yogurts as well as in other foods and in supplements, has not yet been established for most diseases and conditions.


In Our Own Words

Probiotics are live bacteria that are found in aged cheeses, yogurts, and other foods and in supplements.  When gut bacteria are in balance, or when enough good bacteria are present, there may be health benefits.  Improving the balance of intestinal bacteria is an active area of research today.

Eating foods containing probiotics may help prevent diarrhea that often goes along with antibiotic treatment. Research also supports maintaining a healthy diet, with benefits from increased fiber, decreased saturated fat, and products like low-fat yogurt, which boost gut health and promote overall health. Probiotics may have important roles in irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance and allergy problems, but effects are still being studied to understand potential benefits.

Relevant Conditions
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastritis
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