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Probiotics are live microorganism or the good bacteria present in the gut. They are sold in various forms like pills, dietary supplements and commercial foods. Doctors often suggest intake of probiotics to combat a wide range of problems associated with gut health.

Significance of Probiotics

The intestine is a residence of good as well as harmful bacteria. Various kinds of digestive ailments and intestinal disorders arise due to imbalance between these two types of bacteria. However, consuming probiotics help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria. They also prevent over growth of bad bacteria inside the stomach. They are significant in the following different ways:

List of Disorders that probiotics can manage:

  • Diarrhea
  • Colitis
  • Vaginitis
  • eczema
  • Intestinal inflammation like necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Food poisoning
  • Canker sores
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • General indigestion problems like GERD, heatburn
  • Bowel obstruction, constipation
  • Food allergy, like cow milk allergy
  • Infectious diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea

Probiotics can also control high blood pressure and cholesterol

Which strains of Probiotics one should look for?

Different strains of probiotics have different functions.

Lctobacillus strains are useful for adults as well as children. It is excellent for curing diarrhea, IBS, lactose intolerance, skin disorders, UTIs, respiratory problems etc. The strains that are widely used are:

  • L. acidophilus,
  • L. blugaricus,
  • L.s plantarium,
  • L.reuteri,
  • L. salivarius,
  • L. casei,
  • L. Johnsonii
  • L. Gasseri
  • L. acidophilus DDS-1
  • L. rhamnosus GG,


A large portion of the gut comprises of Bifidobacteria and it is essential for improving conditions like admoninal pain, constipation, IBS, bloating, etc and particularly dental cavities in children. Look for the following strains of probiotics

  • Bifodbacterium bifidum
  • Bifodbacterium lactis
  • Bifodbacterium longum
  • Bifodbacterium breve
  • Bifodbacterium infantis
  • Bifodbacterium thermophilum
  • Bifodbacterium pseudolongum

Other types of Probiotic strains

  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Streptococcus thermophilus

Foods that Contain Probiotics

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Probiotics apart from being sold as pills, powders, and dietary supplements, many foods are also rich in probiotics naturally. This includes fermented foods, fruits, vegetables and cereals. Have a quick look at the probiotic-rich foods:

  • Kefir
  • Yogurt (with live cultures)
  • Tempeh
  • Dark chocolate
  • Kimchi  
  • Microalgae
  • Miso
  • Honey
  • Pickles
  • fermented soybean or natto
  • Sourdough bread
  • Bananas
  •  tomatoes
  • Artichokes
  • green beans
  • leeks
  • Whole-grain breads

Side effects of Probiotics

Side effects are mostly observed in people who consume probiotics on being seriously ill. Cases have been reported of lactobacillus septicaemia, a fatal disease. Secondly, probiotics may also make some sensitive to allergens. Doctors also say that people who are undergoing cancer treatments must refrain from taking probiotics.

The Bottom Line for Safe Consumption of Probiotics

We always suggest you to practise safe ways which implies consulting your doctor before you pop pills or any other forms of commercial supplements. Children, elderly people and pregnant women should be more cautious.

Although, probiotics are not FDA approves, there are several concrete evidences regarding their safety and health benefits. Lastly, you can always have probiotics rich natural foods.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 06, 2015