You have probably heard the word probiotics before. But exactly what are they? They are essentially live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit for the person.

Over the years, probiotics have earned the reputation of being an essential element of a healthy diet. They can help improve a person's general well-being and maintain their physical and mental health when administered in the correct dosage.

Kounsel interviewed registered dietitian Lisette Llamas to discuss everything you need to know about probiotics, from how to choose them to where you can find them. She's specialized in diabetes, weight, and heart management, and you can connect with her through Kounsel's website or mobile app.

What are probiotics?

As we explained above, probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in the correct dosages, can confer a health benefit for the host.
In essence, probiotics are good bacteria that provide health benefits if given in the right amounts.

What types of probiotics are there?

There are different types of probiotics, and they are identified by genes, species, and strain. Some help with digestion, while others help with constipation, nutrient absorption, the immune system, or diarrhea.

As you can tell, the benefits are opposite to one another. This is why it is important to purchase the correct ones for your individual needs, whether in supplements or foods.

Does everyone need to add probiotics to their diet?

If you're a healthy individual, there is no reason to take additional probiotics. However, if you have digestion or immune system issues, it may be a good idea to incorporate them into your diet. Work with a professional to help you determine which one you need.

Are probiotics safe for everyone?


Who can take probiotics?

Registered Dietitian, Lisette Llamas  told Kounsel during the interview that probiotics are considered generally safe for everyone and that there are no extreme side effects, perhaps only bloating or gases.

Nonetheless, probiotics are not recommended for those with compromised immune systems (such as children, pregnant women, or someone with a severe illness). For this reason, see a doctor before taking probiotics to help determine if you can take them.

However, if you begin taking probiotics and are not seeing any benefits, Lisette recommends stopping the intake and consulting a nutritionist.

Can you get probiotics directly from food?

Today, the main focus is to get probiotics directly from food sources rather than supplements because of better absorption.

Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as yeast, mold, and bacteria that already preexist or have been added. Some examples are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and tempeh, which are foods that have microorganisms.

If you choose to take probiotics as supplements, consider that more expensive brands are not necessarily the best. Look out for brands tested by a third party, which guarantees they are quality products.

Do all fermented foods contain probiotics?

The answer is no. Not all fermented foods are probiotics, not even yogurt. Check that the product label reads "live microorganisms" and that it lists which ones are there. This way, you ensure that you are consuming microorganisms and know exactly which ones.

Key Takeaways

Lissette suggests that focusing on having a healthy gut is beneficial for your overall health. You can concentrate on taking fermented foods first, which have prebiotics, and you can do so once a day and increase your intake slowly to avoid discomfort, gas, or bloating. In time, it will become a habit.

About Lisette Llamas

Lisette is a Registered Dietitian with 5 years of experience. Her desire is to help her clients improve their health and feel their best while making nutrition simple. She focuses on diabetes, heart health, constipation, anemia, weight management, and general wellness. You can connect with her on Kounsel.

You can visit her Kounsel profile here: