Betty Kovacs, MS, RD
Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What are probiotics?
- What are prebiotics and synbiotics?
- What are microbes and their role in our health?
- What are the health benefits of probiotics?
- What are the different types of probiotics?
- What foods contain probiotics?
- What are the side effects and risks of probiotics?
- How should people take probiotics?
What are the different types of probiotics?
Probiotic foods, beverages, and supplements products contain bacteria and/or yeasts. Up until the 1960s, the only gut microflora that they were able to identify were clostridia, lactobacilli, enterococci, and E. coli. Since then, innovative techniques have discovered many more bacteria.
There are several different kinds of probiotics, and their health benefits are determined by the job that they do in the gut. They must be identified by their genus, species, and strain level. Here is a list of probiotics and their possible health benefits.
There are more than 50 species of lactobacilli. They are naturally found in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems. Foods that are fermented, like yogurt, and dietary supplements also contain these bacteria. Lactobacillus has been used for treating and preventing a wide variety of diseases and conditions.
Some of the lactobacilli found in foods and supplements are Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. acidophilus DDS-1, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus plantarium, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus johnsonii, and Lactobacillus gasseri.
Studies have shown some benefits linked to Lactobacillus and treating and/or preventing yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infection, irritable bowel syndrome, antibiotic-related diarrhea, traveler's diarrhea, diarrhea resulting from Clostridium difficile, treating lactose intolerance, skin disorders (fever blisters, eczema, acne, and canker sores), and prevention of respiratory infections.
There are approximately 30 species of bifidobacteria. They make up most of the healthy bacteria in the colon. They appear in the intestinal tract within days of birth, especially in breastfed infants and are thought to be the best marker of intestinal health.
Some of the bifidobacteria used as probiotics are Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium thermophilum, and Bifidobacterium pseudolongum.
Studies have shown that bifidobacteria can help with improving blood lipids and glucose tolerance. Bifidobacteria have been shown to effectively alleviate IBS and significantly improve IBS symptoms like pain/discomfort, distension/bloating, urgency, and digestive disorders.
3. Saccharomyces boulardii
This is also known as S. boulardii and is the only yeast probiotic. Some studies have shown that it is effective in preventing and treating diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics and traveler's diarrhea. It has also been reported to prevent the reoccurrence of C. difficile, to treat acne, and to reduce side effects of treatment for H. pylori.
4. Streptococcus thermophilus
This produces large quantities of the enzyme lactase, making it effective, according to some reports, in the prevention of lactose intolerance.
5. Enterococcus faecium
This is normally found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals.
This has been used extensively in food processing throughout human history, and ingestion of foods containing live bacteria, dead bacteria, and metabolites of these microorganisms has taken place for a long time.
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