Probiotics are bacterial cultures,such as are found in yogurt, that also live in our intestines. They contribute to the digestive process and keep unhealthy microorganisms, such as candida yeast, from invading our systems.
Many people have insufficient healthy bacteria, and should be supplementing with a good probiotic formula. Antibiotics and pain pain medications can inhibit the good bacteria. Eating too much sugar can encourage candida, which may overcome even a mildly weak intestine.
You should consider taking probiotics if you: regularly or recently took antibiotics; regularly use pain killers such as aspirin and ibuprofen; have recurring fungal or yeast infections; have chronic digestive disturbances, such as IBS, colitis, multiple food intolerances, or leaky gut syndrome.
How do you know which probiotic to take? Generally more expensive ones are of higher quality. You want to make sure that you are actually getting the probiotics into your body, and the better quality ones have more living bacteria. You want to take a formula with several different bacteria in it. I recommend at least acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum, and lactobacillus casei. The different bacteria have overlapping and synergistic effects.
How to take probiotics. Generally it is best to take them on an empty stomach, but not when you are hungry. Stomach acid can easily kill the bacteria. First thing in the morning and bedtime work well for most people. One capsule twice a day is a good maintenance program. If you have symptoms that would benefit from probiotics you may want to take larger doses. Start at two capsules a day and slowly work your way up to six to ten a day. Stay there for a month then work your way back down. If you are healthy and maintaining a good diet, you may not need to continue taking them, as they thrive in a healthy intestinal environment. If you have any of the conditions mentioned above, it is unlikely that probiotics alone will heal you. It is best to see a health practitioner who has experience with digestive imbalances and yeast infections.