Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs

Probiotics are becoming increasingly popular, appearing in the form of vitamins or dietary additions like fruit drinks or yogurt. Probiotics have been found to reduce the symptoms of some intestinal disorders (irritable bowel syndrome) and research is ongoing on their effect on other chronic conditions like high cholesterol.

Sometimes when I prescribe an antibiotic to a patient, they will ask me if it’s OK to continue their probiotic. In the past, I would just assure them that the two wouldn’t “cancel” each other out and that was the end of the discussion. However, now I encourage my patients to  add probiotics while taking their antibiotics. Why would this be helpful? It turns out the taking in good bacteria, in the form of a probiotic, may actually make your antibiotic work better. Even more exciting is that they may reduce your risk of getting antibiotic associated diarrhea or yeast infections. These are very unpleasant risks associated with antibiotics, and I would LOVE to reduce the possibility that they occur to my patients. The jury is still out, but so far I’m getting great feedback from my patients who have tried it.  An easy way to give daily probiotics a try is to eat two 8 ounce servings of yogurt with active cultures or try a supplement of L.acidophilus. There is still debate about how many “CFUs” (Colony Forming Units) of the good bacteria are needed, so stay tuned.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Sadly, frozen yogurt (due to its extreme temperature) has much lower levels of those good probiotics. But don’t despair, some companies are working on versions that will retain more of the good stuff. Trust me, I looked into this… I take my fro-yo very seriously.

To read more about Probiotics (some of you might be THAT interested?)

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