Probiotics 101: What They Are and Why They Matter

Probiotics 101: What They Are and Why They Matter


Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially for your digestive system. They are known as “good” or “friendly” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. Probiotics can be found in certain foods and supplements and have become increasingly popular in recent years.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. They are similar to the beneficial microorganisms that naturally live in your gut. Probiotics can be found in various forms, including foods and dietary supplements.

Why Do They Matter?

The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, including both good and bad bacteria. An imbalance of these microorganisms can lead to various health problems. Probiotics can help restore this balance by increasing the number of good bacteria in your gut.

Health Benefits of Probiotics

There are numerous health benefits associated with consuming probiotics. These benefits include:

  • Improved digestion
  • Boosted immune system
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better mental health
  • Lowered risk of certain diseases

Types of Probiotics

There are many different types of probiotics, each with their own unique characteristics. The most commonly used and studied probiotics include:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Streptococcus
  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)

Sources of Probiotics

Probiotics can be found in certain foods and supplements. Some of the most common sources of probiotics include:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha
  • Probiotic supplements

Side Effects

While probiotics are generally considered safe for most people, they can cause side effects in some individuals. Common side effects include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach

If you experience any of these side effects, it is best to stop consuming probiotics and consult with your healthcare provider.


Probiotics can provide numerous health benefits and are an important part of maintaining a healthy gut. While they are generally considered safe, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting to consume probiotics, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

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