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Probiotics Reduce Antibiotic Diarrhea

Users Had 42% Lower Risk of Diarrhea While Taking Antibiotics

Studies of Commercial Products Limited

Newberry says none of the studies included in the analysis examined commercially available probiotic yogurts, and very few examined commercially marketed probiotic supplements.

"In most cases these were mixtures created in the lab for the individual study," she tells WebMD.

Many types of bacteria or yeasts are considered to be probiotics, and commercially available supplements contain different combinations of these microorganisms.

"At this point the research doesn't say much about which microorganisms work best," she says.

And because dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, buyers are on their own trying to figure out which ones to take.

"I'm afraid nothing in this review will help consumers choose which probiotic supplement to choose or which foods to eat," says David Bernstein, MD, who is chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

All agree that more study is needed to identify which microorganisms best benefit the gut.

"In high-risk patients -- which would include elderly people in nursing homes taking antibiotics -- it is probably not a bad idea to give a probiotic," Quigley says. "But if you ask me which one, I really couldn't tell you."

Food Sources for Probiotics

Even if there aren't recommendations on specific products, there are food sources for probiotics:

  • Yogurt that contains live bacteria: Not all yogurts have these. Make sure the label says "live culture," "live bacteria," or "probiotic." Buttermilk and acidophilus milk.
  • Cheese with live bacteria cultures: Aged cheeses such as cheddar and blue cheese are a good source, but don't cook them. Heat kills the bacteria cultures.
  • Kefir: a yogurt-based drink found in most major food outlets.
  • Miso and Tempeh: different forms of fermented soy. Miso is a paste used for seasoning and tempeh is a fermented version of soy often used as a meat substitute.
  • Fermented cabbage: Sauerkraut is the German version; Kimchi is the Korean style. But heavily processed products packaged in cans or jars probably don't have live bacteria. Check the label.
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