If you’re ready to add probiotics to your diet, you have a lot of options. Now that more research shows these "good bacteria" may help with digestive problems, you just need to know where to find them.
One common source is supplements. You can buy them as tablets, capsules, powders, or liquids. Look for them in health food stores, grocery stores, drugstores, and online.
Your stomach. You can’t live without it, but why does it cause you so much trouble? Readers who wanted to know made this the top story of 2008.
Here are the other topics included among the 10 most viewed digestive stories on WebMD for 2008.
9 Surprising Facts About Your Stomach
Burps, Gas, Growling: Managing Embarrassing Conditions
Top 10 Heartburn-Causing Foods
Heartburn: Foods to Avoid
Yogurt Maker Sued Over Health Claims
You can also find probiotics in many foods. Yogurt is the most well-known source, but they're also in:
Dairy foods like buttermilk, some soft cheeses, fermented and unfermented milk, and kefir
Soy drinks and products like miso and tempeh
Kimchi, sauerkraut, and many pickles
Which One Is Right for You?
Many types of bacteria are probiotics. Each has its own benefits, so talk to your doctor about which one might help you the most.
For example, different strains of the bacteria lactobacillus -- found in some yogurts -- can help with lactose intolerance and types of diarrhea.
Read the Label
If you choose yogurt or another dairy food, look on the label for the phrase "contains live active cultures" or "contains probiotics." Not all yogurts have them. Frozen yogurt doesn't have any.
If you go with a supplement, know that the FDA regulates these products but treats them like foods and not medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, supplement makers don’t have to show their products are safe or effective to sell them. That means that these firms are in charge of checking the safety and labeling of their products before they sell them to make sure they meet FDA rules.
How a probiotic works can vary from brand to brand. That's why it's key to get as much info as you can before you buy. Here are some things you should be able to find on the label:
The genus, species, and strain of the probiotic (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, for example)
The number of organisms that will be alive by the use-by date
The company name and contact information
If you can't find this on the label, you may be able to find it on the company's web site. While you’re there, look for studies that back up the product's health claims.