NORMAN — Q: What are probiotics?
A: Probiotics are live microorganisms (such as bacteria) that may assist with the maintenance of microflora (organisms) in the gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “beneficial” bacteria and may reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines thereby promoting a healthy digestive system.
The human gastrointestinal tract naturally contains hundreds of types of microorganisms that are similar to probiotics. Lactobacillus acidophilus is the largest group of probiotics in the intestine and is found in yogurt with live cultures or certain probiotic dietary supplements.
Many people use probiotics to prevent or reduce side-effects caused by antibiotics, such as diarrhea, gas and cramping, as antibiotics destroy harmful and beneficial bacteria.
Probiotics may help replace beneficial bacteria within the body, which may help to prevent infections in the digestive tract and may help control inflammation.
Probiotics are being studied for potential benefits regarding colon cancer, skin infections, respiratory infections, tooth decay and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment with a referral from their family physician.
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