Are Probiotics Good for Digestion?


Are Probiotics Good for Digestion?

11, December 2014 1:24 PM

Foods with Probiotics

Humans have long made and loved fermented foods like yogurt, kimchee and sauerkraut. But they probably didn’t know that their fermented foods weren’t just tasty, but helpful with digestion, too. It is only recently that we’ve learned about health benefits in fermented foods that go beyond the original ingredients.

Milk is made into yogurt and cabbage is made into kimchee and sauerkraut by harnessing the power of probiotics. These “good” bacteria break down sugars and fibers, changing the consistency of foods and adding different flavors.

Recent research indicates that probiotics don’t just make foods more delicious, they can also confer health benefits, improving digestive issues and building immunity.

Are Probiotics Good for Digestion?

Chronic digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and diarrhea can be improved with probiotics, and studies have concluded that probiotics can be helpful for these digestive issues.

Researchers believe that a “dysbiosis,” or imbalance of good bacteria versus bad bacteria may be the underlying cause for many digestive difficulties. This imbalance may arise after a course of antibiotics, which wipes out both the harmful bacteria it’s intended to, and the helpful bacteria, too. Probiotics can restore this balance and regulate digestion.

Lactose intolerance also gets a helpful hand from probiotics. People who have difficulty digesting dairy are often more able to eat yogurt, because the probiotics have already broken down much of the lactose for us. This means those with lactose intolerance can enjoy yogurt without feeling gassy or bloated.

The health benefits of probiotics are only now being investigated, with studies looking into the effects of probiotics on colorectal cancer, liver diseases, respiratory diseases and mood disorders. There are also studies investigating whether healthy bacteria can improve obesity and diabetes.

Luckily, probiotics make food delicious, as those who were making yogurt and kimchee thousands of years ago already knew. The ingredients – like milk – used to make fermented foods tend to convey a lot of health benefits on their own. The likely fact that probiotics are good for digestion, too, is just another great reason to try fermented foods today.

Claire St. John, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist 


Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky MT, McCormick JK. Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice. Clin. Microbiol Rev. Oct 2003; 16(4): 658-672.

Guarner F, Khan AG, Garisch J, et al. Global Guidelines. Probiotics and Prebiotics. World Gastroenterology Organisation Oct 2011.

Petschow B, Dore J, Hibberd P, et al. Probiotics, prebiotics and the host microbiome: the science of translation. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 2013; Vol. 1306 Issue 1.

Tolo R, Suarez A, Clemente MG, et al. Intestinal microbiota in health and disease: Role of bifidobacteria in gut homeostasis. World J Gastroenterol. 2014; 20(41): 15163-15176.




Tags: dairy diabetes Healthy eating Probiotics yogurt

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