If you’re aware of the benefits of taking high-quality supplements and looking to expand beyond your standard multivitamin, you may want to consider the advantages of probiotics.
Believe it or not, probiotics and prebiotics are now the third most commonly used dietary supplement, ranking just below vitamins and minerals. And this is for good reason: Probiotics and prebiotics support digestion, which is directly linked to your ability to absorb the nutrients in your food. It makes sense why they should go hand-in-hand, right? But probiotics do so much more for your health—including boosting your immunity! 
If you want to learn more about probiotics and how to choose one that’s right for you, check out my original article on this topic. But if you’re looking for a quick list of facts, you’re in the right place! Keep reading for answers to the top 10 frequently asked questions (FAQs) so you can learn all about the advantages of probiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms—the “good” kind of bacteria. They are commonly administered in supplement form, but you can also get them from some foods, particularly fermented foods. Foods that contain probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir.
One of the big advantages of taking probiotics is that they’re made of living (good) bacteria or microbes commonly associated with fermented foods. These live microbes are associated with an improved microbiome and overall digestive system.
In order to be defined as a probiotic, the product must contain living bacteria, or live cultures. Furthermore, probiotics must also contain a certain amount of live cultures.
The advantages of probiotics are largely thanks to the extensive health benefits. A healthy balance of flora in your microbiome is key to all areas of your health, including your skin, cardiovascular system, and your nervous system. [2, 3, 4, 5] Specifically, the strongest evidence for the advantages of probiotics has been in treating acute diarrhea due to viruses.
While probiotics are generally safe, there have been some reports of gastrointestinal infections and inflammation related to probiotic use. And probiotics can sometimes cause side effects such as bloating, gas, and flatulence.  To help reduce this likelihood, try to purchase high-quality products from a reputable source.
Depending on your personal health history, you may not necessarily “need” probiotics in your daily diet. That said, certain conditions do benefits from regular use. Any condition that impacts your gut microbiome, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Likewise, if you find that you’re showing signs of digestive distress, such as diarrhea, constipation, etc., you may find that taking a quality probiotic may offer some relief.
When you eat foods that contain probiotics, you help increase the number of flora in your gastrointestinal system. These flora are needed to help break down your food and absorb nutrients.
Probiotic supplements work the same way as probiotic foods, but they come in a more concentrated dose, often containing specific strains to produce a specific health benefit. Each capsule should contain billions of healthy live bacteria that will help your body better digest your food.
Probiotic products come in one of two manners: They’re either preserved in liquid or turned into a powder. In the latter version, the bacteria are grown and fermented. Then, the bacteria are separated from the food source. Finally, the bacteria are freeze-dried into a powder.
Probiotic drinks such as kefir can be a great source of good healthy bacteria for your gut, but they can be pricey. If you’re on a tight budget, forego these drinks and focus on incorporating more probiotic-rich foods into your diet or spend your money on a quality supplement instead.
As we’ve discussed, the advantages of probiotics are largely the same, whether you’re consuming the probiotics from food or a supplement. So, eating probiotic yogurt can benefit your digestion, skin, cardiovascular system, and your nervous system.