Probiotics are essentially, good germs. The body is an ecosystem with millions of bacteria aiding digestion, manufacturing food for the body, killing unfriendly bacteria and maintaining balance with fungi. Probiotics are good bacteria that live in our bodies. There are more of these bacteria living inside of us than there are cells that make up our body. An estimated 500-600 trillion live cultures of probiotic bacteria live inside the body.

Probiotics, a dose of good germs, is a recently recognized treatment for some of our problems. The term probiotics refers to the various bacteria that live inside our intestinal tract. These bacteria are actually useful to our bodies, providing a variety of functions. These bacteria are beneficial to our immune system, and research is bringing to light how powerful these helpful bacteria can be. These good bacteria can help prevent infections by outnumbering and crowding out the bad guys (unwanted bacteria or other infectious diseases). Probiotics also help to bolster the immune system throughout the body.

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are the most common used probiotics. Prebiotics are the foods that support the growth of probiotics. Sauerkraut, yogurt, wine and cheese use the activities of these friendly bacteria in their creation. These foods supply not just probiotics but the food source for the good bacteria.

One present use of probiotics is combating digestive problems and yeast infections caused by antibiotics. Probiotics also have potential for treatment of tooth decay, periodontal disease, ulcers, IBS, respiratory and skin infections.

Traditional use of probiotics has been to help problems with the GI tract. Irritable bowel, bloating and diarrhea are common symptoms where probiotics may be used. Probiotics are commonly used to help children and adults when infectious viruses. The probiotics themselves do not necessarily kill the bugs, but help the body through the infection. The probiotics do seem to help prevent reinfection and may even help the body produce antibodies against the infectious bug. Probiotics have also improved treatment rates against bacteria suspected of causing stomach ulcers. It is no surprise that given the billion plus numbers of good bacteria in our intestinal tract, these important bacteria play a critical role in keeping this environment healthy.

Besides the benefits of probiotics with helping in the intestinal tract, the good bacteria help with preventing respiratory infections such as the cold and flu. Probiotics have helped reduce potentially infectious bugs like staph and strep from colonizing in the nose. Probiotics can also help prevent vaginal infections as well as bladder infections. Probiotics are often suggested to be taken during the course of treatment with antibiotics to prevent the loss of the good bacteria in the intestines.

Probiotics are important in re-colonizing the intestine with good bacteria. They can quickly identify harmful bacteria or fungal overgrowths and work to eradicate them. With poor lifestyle choices, food processing, pollution and antibiotic therapy, the numbers of good bacteria living naturally in our gut are reduced, and research has shown the active consumption of bacteria increases the size of intestinal colonies, thereby improving digestion of food.

Whatever the strategy, smart probiotics microorganisms work collectively and synergistically with the other components of our immune system. Our probiotics system works within the non-specific immune system to help protect the body for invasions. Probiotics live within the oral cavity, the nasal cavity, the esophagus, around the gums, and in pockets of our pleural cavity (surrounding our lungs). They dwell within our stomach, within our intestines, within the vagina and around the rectum and amongst other pockets of tissues. This means that for bacteria to invade the bloodstream, they must first get through the legions of probiotics bacteria that populate those entry channels-assuming a healthy body of course.

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