Dietary supplements seem to be a hot topic these days, and I often get asked whether or not it’s necessary to take a daily multivitamin or any other supplement. I have already expressed my opinion on multivitamins, but I believe that they are not the only supplement that is safe to take on a daily basis. One of the only other supplements I recommend for daily use is a probiotic, which helps improve digestive health and may increase immunity and decrease inflammation. Probiotics contain live and active cultures of “good” bacteria that can help outweigh the effects of “bad” bacteria in our bodies, especially our digestive tract.
A lot of us are familiar with probiotics’ role in digestive health thanks to clever marketing from yogurt companies. Yogurt is a natural source of probiotics, although some brands lead consumers to believe that the ingredients in their yogurt have magical powers to transform the way a person’s digestive tract functions. The truth is, the only difference between these specially-marketed yogurts and “regular” yogurt is the strain of bacteria present. There is no need to pay more money for yogurt that’s advertised as being good for digestive health – any yogurt whose label states that it “contains live and active cultures,” (and almost all yogurts do) is good for digestive health!
The strain of bacteria found in most yogurts, Lactobacillus acidophilus, is also a strain commonly found in supplement form (and the one I recommend, due to its effectiveness, low risk of side effects, and budget-friendly price tag) . Since yogurt would need to be consumed at least once a day, every day, to reap its maximum probiotic benefits, supplementation is often a good idea for anyone looking to improve their digestive health. Acidophilus can help regulate the digestive tract, has minimal side effects (gas and bloating may occur during the first few days of use, but they almost always subside once your body gets used to the supplement), and 100 capsules of the CVS brand only cost around $6. As with most other supplements, price and quality vary by brand (since supplements are not regulated by the FDA), so stick to brands you know and trust, and don’t fall into the trap of believing that a higher price automatically equals higher quality.
With regular use, probiotics can help achieve intestinal regularity and reduce digestive disturbances by counteracting the effects of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. As an added bonus, regulation of the digestive tract may lead to weight loss and a smaller midsection, as these problems are sometimes caused by an inefficient digestive system. If any of the above issues apply to you, I would recommend talking to your doctor about taking a probiotic supplement – it’s a safe, cost-effective step toward a healthier digestive tract.