The pros of probiotics

In addition to the treatment(s) recommended by your specialist, foods and/or supplements containing probiotics (good bacteria) may aid in the management of your condition.1

Your gut is full of microorganisms, including bacteria – some of which are good and others which are not. The healthy flora in your gut (termed the microbiota) aid digestion and keep unhealthy microbes in check. A healthy microbiota also plays an important role in the proper development and function of the immune system, and helps to maintain the integrity of the gut mucosal barrier.2

Unfortunately, due to the combination of living in polluted environments, our over-consumption of processed foods, and our over-use of antibiotics, many of us today have ended up with an unhealthy gut. To that end, there is a growing body of evidence showing an association between the development of IBD and an imbalance in gut microbiota. Although research is still in its early stages, there are suggestions that probiotics may improve intestinal microbial balance, enhance gut barrier function and improve local immune response.3

While the research continues, you can still find ways to introduce probiotics into your diet and reap the health benefits of a healthier microbiota. In fact, your diet probably already includes some level of live cultures hiding in everyday foods like yoghurt, Swiss and Parmesan cheese, miso soup, sauerkraut and kefir fermented drinks.

If you don't have a taste for the natural fermented option above, discuss with your doctor which over-the-counter options (drinks, powders or capsules) they would recommend.

Like any change to your diet or treatment plan, you should discuss increasing your intake of probiotics with your doctor.

What are probiotics and prebiotics and are they of any benefit to IBD patients?

References: 1. Hill C et al. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014; 11: 506–514. 2. Jandhyala SM et al. World J Gastroenterol 2015; 21: 8787–8803. 3. Durchschein F et al. World J Gastroenterol 2016; 22: 2179–2294.