In a nutshell, the answer to the question of, “What are biotics?” is that biotics are beneficial microbes – mainly bacteria – that can help ensure our digestive health. But scientific evidence shows that they can do much more than that. Here’s some information on why you need to make sure you have an ample supply of these good microbes in your body.
You can’t really answer the question, “What are biotics?” without at least briefly touching on the war that’s going on inside your “gut,” which is basically your digestive system. There’s a constant battle taking place for control of your gut, and it’s being waged between beneficial microbes, such as bacteria and yeasts, and pathogenic, or harmful microbes.
When the good guys keep the bad guys in check, our gut functions normally and we don’t have any gastrointestinal distress. When the bad guys win, the opposite is true. We’ll be at a higher risk for not only relatively minor issues like diarrhea and bloating, but potentially major problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. If you’ve ever had it, you know how horrible it can be.
That’s one of the main reasons why you need to make sure you have enough beneficial microbes in your gut so that they can balance out the bad ones. Stress can deplete your supply of probiotic bacteria, as can smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Antibiotics are incredibly effective drugs, but they kill both good and bad bacteria.
Whatever the reason your supply of beneficial microbes might be running low, there are ways you can replenish them. There are a lot of different types of fermented foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and others. But you can’t get enough probiotics through diet alone. If you tried, you’d gain so much weight that would nullify any other benefits you might obtain.
That’s why a lot of people – millions and millions of them, in fact – turn to probiotic supplements. These capsules, powders, drinks and gummies provide the reinforcements your gut needs to ensure the bad microbes don’t take over and cause you problems.
What Are the Biotics I Need to Buy?
First of all, don’t buy any product that sounds too good to be true. That obviously not only goes for probiotic supplements but anything else you may be. When it comes to probiotics, you need to realize they’re not magic. They won’t cure an illness or suddenly make you drop 20 pounds. What they will do, however, is provide a great many health benefits.
But you need to be careful about what you’re buying. The best way to do that is by carefully reading the labels of all products you’re considering. That label should clearly spell out the ingredients – especially the types of beneficial bacteria contained in the product.
There are two main types of beneficial bacteria – members of the Lactobacillus family as well as the Bifidobacterium group. Lactobacillus acidophilus is one strain that should definitely be in any probiotic supplement you purchase. The reason is that it’s very effective in inhibiting the growth of harmful microbes in your digestive system.1 Lactobacillus plantarum has been shown in studies to reduce the discomfort experienced by people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, while Bifidobacterium longum helps the body by enabling us to digest carbohydrates and safely metabolize them. 2
The label will also give you a good idea whether the microbes you ingest will do you any good. If, for example, the label reads something to the effect of “viable until expiration date,” that means the microbes should be alive when you take them. If, on the other hand, it says, “viable at the time of manufacture,” you should probably look for something else. The microbes might have been alive when the product was made, but you will have no idea whether or not that will be the case when you ingest them.
Play it Safe
Before you take any sort of probiotic supplement – or any other kind of supplement, for that matter – stay on the safe side and talk to your doctor first. Probiotics are safe for the vast majority of people, but it won’t hurt to get the okay from a medical professional before you spend your money.