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We often hear about probiotics as an interesting option to maintain good health. In what context should you consider taking them?
PROBIOTICS: LIVE AND HEALTHY MICOORORGANISMS!
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria or beneficial yeast. They help to preserve the delicate balance of the intestinal flora. For general information about probiotics, read the following text: Probiotics: the "friendly" bacteria.
Probiotics can be classified in the natural health products category, since they come from nature and are living organisms. The approval process by Health Canada to market these products is stringent, although it differs from the drug approval process. As part of this process, the manufacturers of probiotics provided in supplement format at the pharmacy must show the "health claims" of their products.
A health claim is a representation appearing on a product label, which, on the basis of scientific data, states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between the use of the product and an effect on health. Here are some examples.
EFFECT ON DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Most health claims regarding probiotics relate to the digestive tract. In addition to maintaining overall digestive tract health, probiotics may help to prevent or ease symptoms such as diarrhea associated with health problems like:
- Infectious gastroenteritis
- Travellers' diarrhea
- Clostridium difficileinfections, and
- Certain chronic intestinal diseases (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)
Studies are ongoing to better understand the effects of probiotics on digestive health. It should be noted that lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are strains that have shown promising results.
EFFECT ON INTESTINAL FLORA AND IMMUNE HEALTH
The balance of the intestinal flora has a significant effect on regulating the immune system. Any disruption of this balance could contribute to the onset of medical conditions such as allergic rhinitis or eczema.
Some health claims regarding probiotics suggest an effect on the intestinal flora and the immune system. However, scientific data on this subject is not sufficient to draw any firm conclusions for the time being.
EFFECT ON URINARY TRACT AND GENITAL HEALTH
It has been suggested that probiotics may contribute to maintaining urinary tract and genital health in women and could prevent urinary and vaginal infections. Again, this remains to be shown more clearly.
KNOWING HOW TO MAKE A CLEAR CHOICE
For the time being, probiotics are considered safe for most people (with a few exceptions) when used as directed. However, it could be risky to use these products to prevent or treat a condition or to ease symptoms without first consulting a healthcare professional. It is important to ensure that the appropriate therapeutic choice is made. Probiotics are often used in addition to essential treatments and should not replace them.
YOUR PHARMACIST IS YOUR BEST ADVISOR!
As you can see, probiotics are the object of many health claims. Before using them, it's better to speak to your pharmacist, who can provide information about the scientific data supporting the optimal and safe use of these products depending on the circumstances in which you plan to use them and the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Once you are well informed, you can choose the best product for your needs from the wide range provided at the pharmacy.
Don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist. Maintaining your health is as much a priority for them as it is for you!