Probiotics are living, microscopic (very small) organisms that can help your gut health.
Most often, probiotics are bacteria, but they may also be other organisms, such as yeasts.
Experts are still studying and sorting out exactly how probiotics work. They may:
Boost your immune system.
Help prevent infection.
Stop harmful bacteria from attaching to the gut lining and growing there.
Send signals to your cells to build up the mucus in your gut and help it act as a barrier against infection.
Stop or kill toxins released by certain bacteria that can make you sick.
Promote the growth of other bacteria that can improve your health.
Maintain healthy skin and a healthy nervous system.
Many types of bacteria may be probiotics. Research is being done to learn more. The most common probiotic bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Probiotics can now be found as a pill or powder, or in some foods, such as yogurt.
Probiotics have been around for many years, but lately have become more popular. There are many kinds you can buy. Talk to your doctor about which kinds of probiotics are best for you.
Experts and doctors say more studies are needed to help find out which probiotics are helpful and which might be a waste of money.