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digestive-system I am often asked about probiotics.  A lot of people seem to be confused as to when they should take them and what a probiotic even is.  Probiotics are the opposite of antibiotics.  Antibiotics are meant to  kill bad bacteria in the body but doing so it also kills healthy bacteria in the body.  Bacteria that we need to have  healthy flora and a healthy digestive system.  Probiotics do just that. They flourish the body with healthy bacteria that creates numerous health benefits.   Here is a simple list to help you understand when to take probiotics, what kind and their benefits. Lack of probiotics or beneficial bacteria in the intestines can cause stomach issues like diarrhea or irregular bowel movements, bloating, the overgrowth of yeast, and even inflammation of the body, which can cause immune issues.  Therefore healthy flora in your intestines can help prevent and cure these issues. Most people have a diet high in acidic foods, that cause all these problems. So taking a yogurt that has billions of healthy bacteria in it but is loaded with sugar is probably not your best option.  So always be sure to check sugar content before assuming all yogurt is equal. My favorite brands of probiotic supplements are Bio K, Jarrow Formulas, and Dr Ohiras.  Bio K has vegan options and all varieties come in pill form and drink form. Dr.Ohiras is great for traveling because it doesn't need to be refrigerated. It is definitely recommended to take probiotics after you have been on antibiotics because antibiotics kill off the body's probiotic organisms.  Taking between 5 billion and 20 billion  variable bacteria per day usually creates successful results. Once you have reestablished a healthy flora the bacteria should flourish, as long as you maintain a high fiber, healthy diet.  However if you suffer from stomach issues like IBS, Colitis or Chrone's disease then a probiotic can be very beneficial for a more prolonged period of time. If you are one to get frequent urinary or vaginal tract infections then staying on a regular probiotic can be extremely beneficial for you.  You can even insert Bio K directly into your vagina for instant relief from a yeast infection and retain healthy bacteria to solve the problem, not cover it up. Probiotics are magic to the immune system so any inflammation in the body, wether it be arthritis, eczema, Lupus, Multiple sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, allergies, diabetes, chronic skin conditions and degenerative diseases can be treated and in some cases healed from regular use of probiotics.  Many believe that disease starts in your gut so if you heal your digestive system, then the symptoms start to vanish. You can also get your probiotics from a variety of foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and fermented foods. Many cultures have their variety of fermented foods, like kim chee or Kapustka. So be sure to incorporate some of these foods into your diet to maintain a healthy digestive system. “The road to health is paved with good intestines!” - Sherry A. Rogers * I am not a doctor. I only share my own experiences with probiotics.  It is always wise to talk to your doctor or health care professional before starting any new supplements or vitamins.