Probiotics can help balance digestion


If you are hitting the road for spring break, don't forget your health needs when you pack.

Most people remember to bring their sunscreen and bathing suit if they're heading somewhere warm. But probiotic pills are unlikely to be on anyone's list. A local pharmacist says maybe they should be.

Walgreens pharmacist Jill Biss suggests probiotics as something to consider, and even start taking a few days before you leave. Probiotics replenish and rebalance the flora in your gastro-intestinal tract. When you have an imbalance, you can develop diarrhea.

"Probiotics are natural microorganisms that we already have in our system," explained Biss. You can take it in pill form or eat yogurt that contains probiotics (most brands do).

Biss says there are two cases in which she recommends you take probiotics before you have trouble. The first is when you start packing, and the other is before starting an antibiotics regimen.

"Traveling in airports, you don't have your normal meals so people can get constipated or just have diarrhea, so this is a good preventative to take especially if you are going on spring break. It's the last thing you want to have!" said Biss.

Aside from taking probiotics to counter the effects of antibiotics, some people say probiotics help their digestion.

"If you do have issues or you're prone to issues in terms of diarrhea or upset stomach, you can definitely take a probiotic daily. But we usually recommend it for patients who are starting an antibiotic because that kills the good and bad bacteria in your stomach," said Biss.

Some probiotics are formulated for children.

The main barrier for some people may be the cost. Probiotics are expensive, and due to the sensitive nature of the bacteria (they're living organisms), the expiration date will arrive sooner than you think. Some brands require refrigeration. Costs range from 50 cents to $1 per pill, although generics are cheaper.

Biss doesn't recommend taking probiotics every day, but for the specific circumstances outlined above.