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What Are Probiotics and What Are Their Benefits?

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You may have heard your friends and family members talk about probiotics (saying things like, “Yogurt is full of probiotics!” Or, “I drink kefir for the probiotics!”). Still, you might be scratching your head, wondering what are probiotics, really? What does this buzzword actually mean? And what are probiotics good for?

Here’s the scoop: Probiotics are microorganisms that live in your gut. These tiny organisms are types of bacteria that are good for you (it’s strange — but true!). So why take probiotics? Why not! Below, discover probiotics’ benefits.

Probiotic Benefits

  • The “good” probiotic bacteria keep your digestive system running smoothly by helping digest the food you’ve eaten.
  • Probiotics also help produce nutrients for your body. They do so by fermenting the fiber in the food you eat, which then helps create the nutrients that are important for the cells in your large intestines. Probiotics also may help with vitamin absorption, such as with vitamin D.
  • Another probiotic perk? They compete for space with other microorganisms or “bad” bacteria in your gut that may cause problems like infections or inflammation. They may also help support your body’s immune system.
  • Probiotics may help with two troublesome gut issues — diarrhea and constipation — and might even help people with Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • The good bacteria are also beneficial for vaginal health. Taking things like antibiotics and birth control may throw off the microorganism balance down there, but probiotics may help restore the right balance and prevent issues like yeast infections and urinary tract infections in the future.

Why Take Probiotics

To get probiotics’ benefits, you’ll want to opt for foods with probiotics, like yogurt (the most common food to eat to get probiotics) and other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir (a fermented milk drink). You can take probiotic supplements, too, which include a certain strain of beneficial microbes. Your body makes probiotics as well, which are naturally found in your intestines.

You’ll also want to keep these probiotics flourishing with prebiotics. A “prebiotic” is food for probiotics and helps them grow and thrive in your gut. Benefiber is a plant-based prebiotic fiber 1— plus, it’s clear and taste-free. Talk about a convenient wellness enhancer!

So if you want to keep your gut running smoothly, consider eating foods with probiotics, as well as taking a prebiotic supplement that helps support those “good” microbes. Then, sit back and enjoy all of the health benefits!

1 These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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