Supplements of probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, may help protect older adults against bowel conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, according to a recent report.11
These “friendly” bacteria, which include lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, are found in yogurt and other fermented foods, as well as in dietary supplements. The human gut contains many different types of bacteria, some of which are beneficial and some that contribute to disease. Maintaining a healthy balance of gastrointestinal flora is believed to prevent harmful bacteria from taking hold and causing illnesses such as food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea.
Older adults have dramatically reduced levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut; in fact, the elderly may have 1,000-fold less beneficial bacteria compared to younger adults. Older people are also more susceptible to gastrointestinal infections and conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, and boosting levels of healthful bacteria may help protect against these ailments.
Probiotics may also benefit healthy people of all ages, particularly those using antibiotics, which kill all types of bacteria in the gut.
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND