What is a probiotic?

A ‘probiotic’ is a term used to describe the different types of ‘live’ good bacteria that help to maintain the natural balance of beneficial bacteria in our bodies. A healthy digestive system contains billions of good bacteria which are needed for a number of body functions including:

  • To help guard against the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the body.
  • To promote healthy digestion.
  • To support normal immune function and,
  • To assist with the production of some vitamins.

Unfortunately certain factors such as antibiotic use can destroy these hardworking microorganisms and disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut, but taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics can help to restore healthy bacteria levels and decrease the incidence of antibiotic induced diarrhoea that may occur in kids.

Where can I get them?

Probiotics are found naturally in fermented and cultured foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, buttermilk, miso and aged cheese1 and are sometimes added into foods or beverages like orange juice. Probiotic bacteria are also available in supplement form. Ingesting these fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement can help to boost our internal army of good bacteria and support digestive function, immunity and overall health and wellbeing.

Are all probiotics the same?

There are many hundreds of different types of good bacteria and each plays a slightly different role in the body. For this reason, it is good to consume a variety of different fermented foods and take a supplement with a mixture of different strains to support our body’s natural state. Some of the most common and useful strains of good bacteria include lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis, which can recolonise our digestive tract with the good bacteria it needs after a course of antibiotics and help keep our bodies healthy and strong.