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“Good” Bacteria May Benefit Stomach

Can probiotics relieve your intestinal distress? According to some studies, they can – but check with your physician first.

What are probiotics exactly? “In simple words, probiotics are beneficial bacteria or yeast,” says Wilson P. Pais, MD, MBA, FACP, FRCP, gastroenterologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “They are naturally present in the intestines and are also derived from food sources, especially cultured milk products.”

Wilson P. Pais, MD, MBA, FACP, FRCP
Wilson P. Pais, MD, MBA, FACP, FRCP

How do they work? “The benefits of probiotics are not completely understood, but they are thought to suppress the growth of disease-causing bacteria, modulate the immune system and modulate pain perception,” says Pais. “Many short-term studies have shown proven benefits of probiotics in intestinal disease and irritable bowel syndrome. I also prescribe probiotics for ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, radiation enteritis and clostridium difficile colitis. My recommendation is to first try active-culture yogurt.”

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