There are several thousand billion bacteria in your body, most of them living in your digestive system. Although there may be as many as 400 species, the most important are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

What they do in the body

These have several functions that are vital for good health. They improve the efficiency of your digestive system; manufacture some vitamins, including biotin and vitamin K; and produce antibacterial substances which kill or deactivate harmful bacteria.

ProbioticsTherapeutic uses of supplements

Probiotics are used to prevent and treat antibiotic-induced diarrhea, yeast infections and urinary tract infections. They may also help to protect against colon cancer and the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some evidence suggests that probiotics may help to treat allergies and skin conditions, reduce high cholesterol, and improve immunity. They can also be taken as a preventive against food poisoning when travelling. Probiotics should be taken in between meals to avoid extreme stomach acidity and enteric-coated supplemental forms may be preferable.

Probiotics products vary widely in quality and in the bacteria they contain. Products which have been manufactured by a filtration process and which are in powder form in a dark glass container may be preferable. They should be kept in a refrigerator after opening.


Fructo-oligosaccharides are carbohydrate molecules which are not digested in the human small intestine but fermented in the colon, where they promote the growth of some species of beneficial bacteria, especially bifidobacteria, and may also reduce the growth of harmful species. Fructo-oligosaccharides are found in plants such as onions, asparagus, garlic and wheat.

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