Probiotics: Do they live up to the hype?


You may have recently come across the word “probiotics” when perusing a health magazine or walking though supplement aisles at the health food store. Your doctor may have even mentioned probiotics to you if you have been battling irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, or diarrhea caused by antibiotics. I always recommend that people get probiotics during or after a round of antibiotics because antibiotics wreak havoc on our natural probiotics. People are becoming more aware of the importance of these live bacteria in the bowels that are an essential part of the digestive system. 

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that cause diseases. Your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. Probiotics are found naturally in your body. They are also found in foods and supplements. It has only been since about the mid-1990s that people have become more interested in probiotics and their health benefits. Doctors often recommend them to help with digestive problems. 

I attended a lecture a couple years ago by two renowned scientists who traveled the world to study the 20 places that are home to the most centenarians (people over the age of 100). These places are spread out all over the world, but the one common theme they share is an understanding of healthy living!  The four commonalities these scientists found were fascinating to me…All 20 of these places practiced the following lifestyle choices:

1. People ate a 95 percent whole foods plant based diet.
2. They led an active lifestyle.
3. They had a strong sense of family and belonging.
4. They all ate some form of fermented foods.

While the first 3 lifestyle choices did not come as a surprise, number 4 was unexpected. I had heard of probiotics here and there, but I had no idea that consuming them was helping people reach the age of 100 and contributing to a high quality of life to boot. That caught my attention. The bottom line is, probiotics are directly related to good health.

Where can I get probiotics and what form should I consume them?

What form should probiotics be taken in? The research showed they weren't taken in pill form, which is often the recommended form in the US. The centenarians consumed the probiotics through fermented foods such as Kimchi, miso, kombucha, saurerkraut, and tempeh. If you think about it, it makes sense. Live bacteria should come from live food. How are you going to insert live bacteria into a pill? You can find all of these foods at Earth Origins, Publix, Lucky’s, and Trader Joe’s here in Gainesville. 

Here are some common conditions that probiotics are used to treat:

• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
• Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
• Antibiotic-related diarrhea
• Skin conditions, like eczema
• Urinary and vaginal health
• Preventing allergies and colds
• Oral health

If you are experiencing any of these issues, I strongly urge you to try probiotics.  Even without these issues, as a preventive measure, you should consume them whenever possible. I grab a Kombucha whenever I’m at the store. It is convenient and easy and a bit of an acquired taste. With probiotics, you will gain a multitude of health benefits. 


 Kombucha can be found at local grocery stores like Publix or Earth Origins.

Kombucha can be found at local grocery stores like Publix or Earth Origins.