Have you ever wondered why some people seldom get sick?  Or why two people can be exposed to the same virus going around the office, but only one of them becomes sick?  The answer has to do with their immune system:  one person is able to fight off the illness while the other person is not.  

Your digestive system contains lots of beneficial microbes.  These are live organisms that contribute to your overall health.  For example, these good bacteria impact the strength of your immune system.  When you do not have enough good bacteria in your digestive system, you can become more susceptible to autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and colitis.   A weakened immune system also leaves you more vulnerable to infections such as the flu or contagious stomach viruses.

But sometimes these good bacteria get depleted.  

If you have recently taken a round of antibiotics, you probably began feeling better after your medicine wiped out the bad bacteria from your body.  But there was more eliminated than you might know.  Antibiotics not only kills the bacteria that make you sick; they also kill the good bacteria that help you stay well and fight other bad bacteria.

Antibiotics are not the only enemy of the good bacteria in your gut.  They can slowly be killed off by the pesticide residue on your food and also by the chlorine in your drinking water.  Once these beneficial microbes are destroyed, other disease-causing organisms begin living in your gut, such as yeast, fungi and bad bacteria.

If you think that you may have a deficiency of good bacteria in your gut, there is a simple way to fix the problem:  take probiotics.  Probiotics are good bacteria that you eat which then go on to take up residence in your digestive system.  Taking probiotics will not only replace the good bacteria that you may have lost, but adding to the population of friendly bacteria in your gut will help destroy whatever bad bacteria or yeasts that may be in there.  Having more good bacteria than bad bacteria keeps the odds in your favor that you will stay healthy and be able to fight off infections.

You have several options when it comes to choosing how to take your probiotics.  The simplest way is to take them in capsule form.  You can also get powdered probiotics.  Some experts think powdered probiotics are better than capsules, because it is beneficial for the organisms to come in contact with the lining of your mouth before you swallow.

There are some food sources that provide probiotics as well. The most popular form is yogurt.  Just make sure that the label states that it contains active yogurt cultures.  Kefir, a fermented milk drink, can also be a rich source of these good bacteria.  

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