Outnumbered – The world within our gut…..

A lot of people are shocked when they realise that we contain more bacterial cells in our body than human cells. This tiny world within our digestive tract is under a lot of scrutiny at the moment, as it is becoming more obvious the role it plays in our health and wellbeing. As new information surfaces, more options have appeared in the strains and combinations of probiotics available.

Probiotics, by definition are microorganisms that when consumed, have a beneficial effect on the body. They are not one size fits all, however, with many strains having been researched for particular conditions. Generally speaking, you have to make sure your probiotic is of a sufficient strength to have an effect. Most probiotics that have evidence behind their use, will need billions of bacteria to be able to shift the dynamics in the gastrointestinal tract enough to produce a noticeable effect.

A common misconception is that antibiotics “are going to remove all of my gut bacteria” and probiotics will “replace all my good bacteria”. This is not the case. Antibiotics may alter the bacteria populations in the gut enough that there is room for bacteria to overgrow in the space that is left behind.  The reason that probiotics are beneficial with antibiotics is that the probiotic can temporarily hold the freed-up space and encourage the growth of more beneficial bacteria, rather than overgrowth of bacteria in our body that can cause diarrhoea and other unpleasant effects. These harmful bacteria are kept in check in the normal body by the sheer diversity of other bacteria strains.

We are only just scratching the surface of understanding the world within our body, however there are many instances in which taking a probiotic is of benefit. It helps to discuss your probiotic options with someone with special knowledge in the area, so feel free to pop by the pharmacy sometime and have a chat!

Jacqui Hagidimitriou

Natural Medicines Pharmacist

TerryWhite Chemmart Samford

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