You’ve probably heard of probiotics before, and know that “good” bacteria is supposed to be healthy, but what effect do they really have on your health, and why should you be spending your money on them?What are they?Probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts that occur naturally in your body. They can also be found in yoghurts and some other dairy products, fermented foods, probiotic drinks, and tablets. They are said to be “helpful” bacteria that aid in digestion. The issue seems to be when healthy vs. unhealthy bacteria in the gut becomes unbalanced, whether through poor diet, stress, illness, or lack of sleep.When this imbalance occurs, there is evidence for skin disorders, immune issues, food intolerances, and gastrointestinal symptoms and disorders resulting or being exacerbated.Food intolerancesMany gastrointestinal intolerances such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, Coeliac disease, and ulcerative colitis to name a few, have been found to be improved with regular probiotic use.After antibioticsAntiobiotics kill bacteria, all bacteria, whether good or bad. This can result in changes to gut bacteria, and sometimes the “bad” kinds of bacteria can come back in larger numbers after an antibiotic treatment. Taking probiotics can help ensure the healthy gut bacteria are replaced so that healthy digestion can continue.Promoting healthy immune systemsProbiotics are thought to be a vital part of maintaining the gut barrier, protecting from toxins, infections, and promoting a healthy immune response so that our body is not reacting inappropriately to foods that shouldn’t be triggering reactions. They have also been found to be helpful in preventing yeast infections, UTI’s, and respiratory tract infections.Should I take probiotics?If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you should always check with your doctor first, but many who suffer from bloating, abdominal pain related to digestion, food intolerances, inflammatory disorders, or frequent reproductive infections may benefit from regular probiotic supplementation.If you are generally healthy and symptom free, including yoghurt as part of a healthy balanced diet, limiting stress, and getting adequate sleep should help ensure your gut bacteria are healthy and balanced.