What are probiotics? Probiotics are live bacteria or micro­organisms that are essential for optimum digestive function and a healthy immune system. These micro-organisms can restore balance to your body, particularly to your colon and intestines, and prevent bloating, constipation and digestive discomfort.

Healthy levels of gut bacteria are needed for the digestive system to function at its best. Antibiotics are usually the main cause of creating bacterial imbalance. All of us who have taken a course in antibiotics may be suffering from unhealthy gut ecology.

Antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in our system, and create an environment for the fungal bacteria (candida) to thrive. Uncontrolled by the good bacteria, the Candida, which survives in anaerobic surroundings, multiplies in our system (anaerobic means they survive without oxygen). This can lead to an inability to digest food, erosion of healthy gut lining and constant yeast infections.

Adding probiotics to your diet can help bring your digestive tract back into balance. The probiotics need to have multiple strains and adequate amount of bacteria to repopulate the intestinal micro-flora.

When looking for the right source of probiotic bacteria make sure that you find a brand which can provide enough number of flora that can remain intact and reach the intestines. Probiotics with low count of strains can be ineffective because they will not survive the stomach acids to reach the intestines and colon.

The amount to be taken depends on the severity of your disorder and may have to be increased for chronic conditions.

Remember that this is not an overnight solution and you may need to make it a long term practice. You will have to build up the dose slowly to avoid a die-off reaction, which can be quite severe in some cases. This long term approach will help you fix your digestive problems quite effectively.

Ultimate Flora, Primal Defense and Enzymatic Therapy Acidophilus Pearls provide good sources of probiotic supplements that can aid in balancing your digestive system.

There are also certain foods available that act as natural sources of probiotics and can help as aids against indigestion and bloating. The following foods are considered to be a good source of probiotics or good bacteria:

–                      Fresh yogurt is known to be one of the better food

sources of probiotics. It contains Lactobacillus, a probiotic strain and is a good addition to your daily diet.

–                     Fermented foods such as khimchi, miso paste and

sauerkraut can be great sources of probiotics. In some countries, they form an important part of the daily meals.

–                    Kefir is a fermented yogurt drink, and is a healthy

source of probiotics. It is made from kefir grains and aids in the ecological balancing of the digestive system.

While there are starter packs of kefir grains for most enthusiasts, there are many ready to drink kefir brands easily available in the market today.

–                    There is a popular probiotic drink called

‘kombucha’ tea. Kombucha is a large mushroom-like substance that is used to make this tea. It is used as the culture which is placed in sweet black tea, and then fermented for a certain time period.

The sugar provides the source for the fermentation process. This drink is so effective that it plays a role in the diets of many healthy conscious individuals.