Generally, probiotics refers to strains of microorganisms such as yeasts and bacteria that help establish and maintain the balance of beneficial microflora in the human gut. Probiotics are available as supplements as well as naturally occurring in fermented foods and cultured products such as yogurt. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium bacteria are common probiotics.

Health considerations

Antibiotics can kill off the microflora of the gut; probiotics are useful to repopulate or rebalance the microflora. Probiotic use has improved outcomes in cases of diarrhea, including diarrhea caused by pathogenic bacteria and antibiotic use. Probiotics may help prevent and treat urinary tract infections and yeast infections (thrush). Probiotic supplements may improve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Regular consumption of probiotics is believed to be required to maintain colonies.

Keep in mind

Supplements and food sources must contain live cultures. Probiotic supplements are available in forms such as refrigerated capsules, unrefrigerated capsules, and beverages with high CFU count. CFU refers to colony forming units, or quantity of live microorganisms.

May be found in

Kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, cheese, supplements


Eat Right Ontario
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Indian Journal of Urology
Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition

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