A careful balance keeps the gut microbiome healthy and intact. Probiotics—living microscopic organisms, similar to the “good” bacteria found in your gut microbiome—can sometimes help.

How do they work?

Probiotics are commonly bacteria or yeasts, and can help to repair a gut microbiome disrupted by illnesses or antibiotics. They temporarily provide healthy microorganisms to a disrupted microbiome and may promote the return of a diverse and rich microbiome.

Probiotics can also strengthen the gut barrier, keeping harmful microorganisms from entering the blood stream and reinforcing your immune system. Probiotics communicate with nerve cells found in the gut, which can impact how your digestive tract works.

Weighing the benefits  

Depending on the strain and species, some probiotics may:

  • Provide anti-inflammatory support

  • Help with bowel movement regularity

  • Help with common GI symptoms, such as bloating, gas or pain

  • Boost the immune system and help prevent infection

  • Stop harmful bacteria from attaching to the gut lining and growing there

  • Stop or destroy toxins released by certain “bad” bacteria, which can make you sick

Talk to a gastroenterologist about which kinds of probiotics are best for your needs—and get invested by joining the #TalkGI conversation on Twitter.