What are probiotics?

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Probiotics are live microorganisms promoted as having various health benefits.

They intend to provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring natural balance of bacteria in your gut (including stomach and intestines).

They’re usually added to yoghurts or taken as food supplements, and are often described as “good” or “friendly” bacteria.

Probiotics are considered generally safe to consume, but may cause bacteria-host interactions and unwanted side effects in rare cases.

Probiotics are generally classed as food rather than medicine, which mean they don’t go through the excessive testing medicines do.

Because of the way probiotics are regulated, we can’t always be sure that:

  • the product actually contains the bacteria stated on the food label
  • the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect
  • the bacteria are able to survive long enough to reach your gut