You don’t necessarily need probiotics to be healthy. However, these microorganisms may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria, just as the existing “good” bacteria in your body already do.
Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria — more than 10 times the number of cells you have in your entire body. It’s now quite clear that the type and quantity of micro-organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases. The ideal ratio between the bacteria in your gut is 85 percent “good” and 15 percent “bad.” Maintaining this optimal ratio is essential for good health.
Probiotics are also essential for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, and they help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals and aid in the elimination of toxins.
It’s important to realize that your gut bacteria are very vulnerable to lifestyle- and environmental factors, such as:
These factors can throw your gut flora out of balance, many of these factors can be difficult to avoid. Simply altering your diet to avoid processed foods and focusing on whole (ideally locally grown organic) foods will make a big dent! That change alone will dramatically reduce the amount of sugar and fructose you consume, as well as automatically limit your exposure to antibiotics and agricultural chemicals.
The following symptoms are all signs that unhealthy bacteria have taken over too much real estate in your gut, and that you probably need to add some healthy probiotics to your diet:
Side effects are rare, and most healthy adults can safely add foods that contain probiotics to their diet. If you’re considering taking supplements, check with your health professional to be sure that they’re right for you.