Demystifying the Probiotic
If you have ever collected a prescription for antibiotics from the pharmacy, chances are you have been asked if you are taking a probiotic. But do you really know what it is you’re taking and why?
Probiotics are fast gaining prime space in pharmacy fridges and shelves – but what is the fuss really about and how do you know which one is best for you?
We’re all born with natural probiotics in our system, explains prominent Perth naturopath Nick Dale. “Breastmilk is rich in probiotics as well, but these good probiotics are easily destroyed through chemicals, antibodies and toxins,” he says.
While mainly beneficial for the digestive system, Nick says probiotics have broad affects throughout the body. Nick says there are foods rich in probiotics, such as yoghurt (he says yoghurt home-made from kefir is best or the best yoghurt to buy is yoghurt cultured in the container). However, he says these, although healthy, are not considered strong enough to correct well-established health problems.
“I would recommend someone take a probiotic if they have taken pharmaceutical medication, particularly antibiotics,” he says. “People with bloating, irritable bowel syndrome or those not having a healthy daily bowel movement, are some examples of cases that may benefit.”
But which probiotic is right for you? Nick says asking your naturopath, health practitioner or expert where you purchase your probiotic is a good idea. Be sure to let them know about any other dietary requirements, like dairy intolerance.
John Bell, self-care adviser to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, says customers should make sure the probiotic they choose is labelled as suitable for the condition they wish to treat and the product is taken following recommended directions.
There are also various probiotics to suit different lifestyles and requirements – for example, probiotics that do not require refrigeration for people-on-the-go (such as our popular Faulding Probiotics).
“Adherence to recommended storage requirements is essential to ensure viability of the probiotics and therefore efficacy,” John says. “If refrigeration is not possible a product which does not require refrigeration will be necessary, however not all strains are available in this form.
“Many people will prefer the powder form of probiotics and powders will usually be more convenient for children as the dose can be incorporated into milk or juice.”