Probiotics are renowned for supporting the digestive system. So, should you be taking probiotics for diarrhea? It may be beneficial. Seek the advice of your primary care physician to find out if probiotics can help with YOUR digestive issues.
Let’s take a look at the best probiotics for diarrhea-related issues and how they might be beneficial for optimal intestinal and digestive health.
Probiotic Supplements: How Might Probiotic Bacteria Be Beneficial To Intestinal Health And Well-Being?
The human gut is a thriving environment for many strains of bacteria, yeasts, and other microbes. Together, this little ecosystem is known as your “gut flora.” And your gut flora plays a hugely important role in your health and well-being.1
Probiotics were first used to rebalance the system after a round of necessary antibiotics. Antibiotics are, of course, a modern-day miracle. The problem is, broad-spectrum antibiotics can’t pick and choose the bacteria that they kill – so they just kill it all, good and bad. Doctors frequently suggest a probiotic when you’re taking antibiotics to help restore friendly bacteria to your gut flora. If you are recommended antibiotics, its for good reason so be sure to take them.
However, it’s not just antibiotics that can play havoc with your intestinal wellness – stress, illness, and bad dietary habits can all take their toll.
On the flip side, beneficial bacteria and a balanced gut have been shown to support the following:
- A healthy Immune system
- Healthy cholesterol
- Energy levels
- Regular digestion
- Normal bowel movements2
So, under the guidance of your doctor, it can be a smart move to take probiotic supplements regularly to promote harmony in your gastrointestinal tract.
When Diarrhea Strikes: Acute Diarrhea, Travelers’ Diarrhea, And Infectious Diarrhea
Diarrhea can come in many forms, but let’s face it, none of them are pleasant. If you have diarrhea for more than a couple of days, or if your diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, nausea, or other symptoms, see your doctor. They will need to asses the cause of your diarrhea in order to provide treatment.
Let’s take a look at the different types of diarrhea and why they might occur.
Acute Diarrhea vs Prolonged Diarrhea
In basic terms, acute diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts less than 2 weeks; persistent diarrhea lasts between 2 and 4 weeks; prolonged diarrhea lasts longer than 4 weeks.
Acute diarrhea (gastroenteritis) is usually caused by the sudden onset of a virus.
Prolonged diarrhea may be due to the inability to digest fats, medical interventions and therapies, or other more serious ailments.3
Traveler’s Diarrhea is a type of acute diarrhea caused by such viruses as norovirus – notoriously nicknamed “cruise ship diarrhea.” This is because it’s a highly infectious diarrhea that spreads quickly between people in confined spaces (including cruise ships).
This type of diarrhea is rarely serious unless you are already in a weakened immune state. But it can certainly ruin your vacation.
Viruses that cause traveler’s diarrhea can be picked up from other people and from contaminated food and water. Traveler’s diarrhea is most common in those who travel to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America.4,5
Just as its name suggests, this type of diarrhea is triggered by taking a course of antibiotics. It’s generally mild. But occasionally, with suppressed supplies of good bacteria, an aggressive bacterial overgrowth of “bad bacteria” can occur called clostridium difficile.
Those at higher risk for clostridium difficile include the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems.6 However, this is not a reason to skip antibiotics that have been prescribed by a doctor.
Good Bacteria: Lactobacillus And Bifidobacterium
Using probiotic supplements for diarrhea-related symptoms can be helpful. This is because probiotics work to support the entire digestive system – helping to balance out good and bad microorganisms. Of course, probiotics should only be used as a diarrhea fix alongside your doctors advice.
Here are some of the best probiotics for diarrhea that have shown promise in randomized controlled trials.
- Lactobacillus species – This lactic acid family of bacteria (also found in fermented foods) will often appear under names like Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus gg, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus salivarius, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
- Bifidobacterium species – This is one of the main bacterial species found in the GI tract of mammals. They will often appear under names like Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium longum.
Diarrhea, Intestinal And Bowel Discomfort: When To See A Doctor
The thing about diarrhea is that it can quickly cause dehydration, and its this dehydration that can turn serious.
Check in with your doctor if your diarrhea lasts more than 2-3 days. This is about as long as the standard stomach virus causes its effects. You should be constantly hydrating during a bout of diarrhea.7
Any bowel discomfort, vomiting, bloating, or diarrhea alternating with constipation should always be discussed with your doctor.
There’s No Denying The Benefits Of Probiotics
The health benefits of probiotics have been researched in-depth in many studies right the globe. Results of these studies are accepted by both the international medical community and the World Health Organization.8
Seek out probiotic supplements that are proven to survive the harsh conditions of the stomach acid. This way, they’ll reach your small and large intestine, so they can do the best job possible.
You may also like to try out supplemental digestive enzymes for any excess gas or bloating. These enzymes help to break your food down into smaller components, so fewer nutrients are lost and you can digest things more easily.
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