The Big Mistake You're Probably Making With Probiotics

You've probably heard about the benefits of probiotics by now. Probiotics are living microorganisms that are naturally found in the GI tract (via Healthline). They also exist in some foods. It's no secret that probiotics offer numerous health benefits, but they aren't a cure-all supplement.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), "in most instances, we still don't know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also don't know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions." While there are certainly benefits to taking probiotics, you shouldn't expect them to solve all of your health problems. You also shouldn't rely on probiotic supplements alone to get the benefits they do offer. You can get probiotics naturally in foods like ​​yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi.

Do I need to take probiotics?

Unless you have a nutrient deficiency or are directed by a doctor, you probably don't need to take a probiotic supplement to be healthy. However, probiotics are considered a generally safe supplement and can be a good idea for anyone looking to improve their gut health. "No one I know has the perfect microbiome, and I personally check a lot of patients," integrative physician Bindiya Gandhi, MD, told Mindbodygreen. "No one eats perfectly all the time: eating fermented foods, fiber, prebiotic foods, vegetables, and fruits. That's why I highly recommend everyone of all ages take a daily probiotic for generalized overall health."

In addition to improved digestion, probiotics may help to prevent yeast and urinary tract infections (via WebMD). They may also help with eczema, acne, infections, allergies, and asthma. However, research on their ability to treat these conditions is still ongoing. Talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements.