Probiotics are live microbes (bacteria and yeasts) that aid us in treating digestive problems. They are commercialized as dietary supplements and some are included in food such as Yogurt. Probiotics are of different types with unique benefits and it broadly includes Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii. But the most common question that arises in our mind is whether the health benefits of including probiotics in our diet overhyped or scientifically proven to be true? To know that, let’s explore the possible risks and benefits of consuming probiotics in this article.

Scientific research findings claim that probiotics are useful in enabling proper digestion and can help us to recover from digestive illness such as Irritable bowel syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD), Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites), and Diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

Some research findings also state that a prebiotic is necessary to activate probiotics. Prebiotics are found in fiber-rich vegetables such as onion, beans, garlic, apple with skin, oatmeal, and banana.  According to the research findings, it’s a myth that consuming probiotics alone (without prebiotics) can improve the gut health and hence including prebiotics in our diet along with probiotics is mandatory to witness a positive impact on the gut health.

Though probiotics facilitate proper digestion, commercially produced dietary supplements that contain probiotics aren’t formally recommended as they aren’t monitored and approved by the FDA ( Food and Drug Administration). It is not assured that the probiotics bought at pharmacies and health food stores are of high-quality. Consuming natural probiotics in food such as homemade yoghurt/curd (Salt and sour kanji drinks for lactose intolerant), leftover rice soaked overnight in a mud-pot and flavoured with a dash of salt, curd, and lime, idly, dosa, kefir (a tangy dairy drink), and fermented vegetables such as pickles or sauerkraut are proved to be highly safe and efficacious.

Probiotics are not always good, sometimes they can instigate an allergic reaction. People with a weak immune system or any other serious illness and people who have undergone any surgery are highly susceptible to attain mild stomach problems, diarrhea, or bloating if they consume probiotic dietary supplements.

Hence, it is concluded that consuming natural probiotics in food is highly recommended than consuming them as dietary supplements. It is not safe to have probiotic dietary supplements before consulting a doctor or a pharmacist. Without a doctor’s prescription, people with a weak immune system or people who undergo treatment for a critical illness should not include probiotic supplements in their diet.

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