Probiotics are the “friendly” bacteria that normally live in the intestinal tract. They help us synthesize certain B vitamins, facilitate digestion and waste elimination, and compete for space with unfriendly bacteria. Proper elimination means better removal of toxins and other waste from the body, keeping us healthy. Many lifestyle factors can upset the natural balance of probiotics, causing potential health risks. These factors include taking antibiotics, drinking chlorinated water, stress, illness, antibiotics used in food production, consuming high levels of alcohol, and exposure to foreign bacteria while traveling.

An upset in the natural intestinal flora can cause bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, constipation and/or poor absorption of nutrients. Disruption in our intestinal flora can also contribute to other conditions, most notably urinary tract infections and candida. Many different types of bacteria live in the intestinal and urinary tracts, so it’s important to use a probiotic that contains more than one strain of bacteria and targets your condition. The digestive system needs hundreds of different strains of “good” bacteria to function ideally.

Probiotics are measured in CFUs, or colony-forming units. Generally, products contain 1 billion or more CFUs. This lower level is appropriate for general health, but it’s not likely to sufficiently rectify a specific condition. Probiotics that are used for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and parasites could contain up to 60 billion CFUs.

Probiotics that require refrigeration are preferred as they are more vital, but they’re not as convenient for travel as the non-refrigerated types. Probiotics can be found in powdered, chewable and pill form.

Walsh can help you find the right probiotics for your system.