What are examples of probiotics?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in the human gut. These “good bacteria” are used to prevent and alleviate many different conditions, but particularly those that affect the gastrointestinal tract. The following are some examples of probiotics:
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus can be found in many yogurts and soft cheeses. It was discovered by the Bulgarian doctor Stamen Grigorov, hence the name bulgaricus. It helps to convert lactose and other sugars into lactic acid, which may be particularly helpful for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • Streptococcus thermophilus has nothing to do with strep throat, which is caused by a completely different bug. These friendly bacteria are also used to make yogurts and cheeses, and they even assist Lactobacillus bulgaricus by making nutrients that assist with growth.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei both convert lactose into lactic acid -- also helping the lactose intolerant. Research has indicated that L. Acidophilus may also be helpful at reducing cholesterol levels.
  • Bifidobacteria is a family of bacteria that has been studied for its ability to prevent and treat various gastrointestinal disorders, including infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation. In addition to making lactic acid, it also makes some important short-chain fatty acids that are then absorbed and metabolized by the body. There is also some experimental evidence that certain bifidobacteria may actually protect the host from carcinogenic activity of other intestinal flora.
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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Spore forms of probiotics are the toughest kinds. They have to be to survive splashing around in your stomach's acid bath -- a must for you to get their probiotic benefits. Wimpier types (including the live cultures in yogurt) often throw in the towel.

The toughest ones are Sustenex, which have armor-like shells, and Culturelle, a probiotic that actually gets turned on by stomach acids.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.