What are probiotics, anyway?

In the United States, 36 Billion dollars was spent last year on probiotic supplements, and that is expected to double in the next 5 years.   There are over 9000 probiotic supplements that can be purchased on the internet.
What are probiotics?  Basically, probiotics are micro-organisms that we ingest as food.  There are thousands of different strains of probiotics, with live organisms that are ingested.  The probiotics that we buy in the store or that are sold now as capsules, or put into food such as milkshakes and granola bars, have different types of organisms present.    
 
As humans, we already have 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our gut, and help us with our digestion and our immune system.  Does taking probiotic supplements help us stay healthier?  
Many studies have been performed to date to answer that question.  So far studies have shown that taking probiotics may help certain problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and antibiotic related diarrhea.  There is no evidence yet that probiotics improve overall health, but many studies are currently in progress.  There is no evidence that probiotics help with weight loss.
Are there foods we can eat that have natural probiotics?  Yes!  Yogurt, pickles, peas, and sourdough bread are examples of food with natural probiotics present.
probiotic

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